Free World - September 15, 2021

Traditionally, much of the most technical workmanship in haute couture—including…


Traditionally, much of the most technical workmanship in haute couture—including absurdly intricate embroideries, waterfalls of sequins and feathers, painstakingly constructed silk flowers, painted fabric or complicated pleating, much of which is done by hand—has been created by just a few independent ateliers in Paris. More recently, haute couture has relied on the business acumen and deep pockets of one couturier in particular: Chanel.⁠⁠
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Starting in the 1980s, Chanel embarked on a buying spree of these artisanal businesses, called maisons or métiers, and gathered them under an umbrella company called Paraffection, which provides back-office services, strategy and human resources.⁠⁠
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Now, with the opening this summer of Le 19M, Chanel’s new building inside the Paris city borders with five times the floor space of its headquarters in the suburb of Pantin, it will for the first time house 11 maisons in one place, along with Eres, the swimwear brand it owns.⁠⁠
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“If we want this savoir faire to continue to exist, and to keep a strong design capacity in Paris for Chanel and the other brands, then we have no choice but to invest in such a location,” says Bruno Pavlovsky, president of both Chanel Fashion and Chanel SAS. In ensuring the maisons’ sound health, Chanel ensures its own supply chain, as well as that of the rest of the couture world (including designers like Fendi and archrival Dior). ⁠⁠
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Le 19M, sitting just off the off-ramp of the Porte d’Aubervilliers, one of the access routes into Paris on the city’s northern border, is far from subtle, and the building’s gawk factor is high. ⁠⁠
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“We wanted to have an impactful window for this craft, to show how important it is for Chanel and fashion with an emblematic location,“ Pavlovsky said If it’s a boring place, it’ll never work.”⁠⁠
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Read more about the new building designed by the swaggering architect Rudy Ricciotti, and see photos from @wsjmag’s tour inside the recently finished spaces, at the link in our bio.⁠⁠
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📷: @jonasunger for @wsjmag



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