Chanel Takes Us Behind The Seams Of Haute Couture

Karl Lagerfeld put his seamstresses centre stage for his latest Chanel offering


Karl Lagerfeld turned the Grand Palais into a work studio for his 33rd Chanel Haute Couture show today. 

And in a time in which the high-profile hirings, firings and resignations of creative directors are talked about ad nauseam, it was refreshing to see a house put the attention where it is rightly due: on the little-known, often-overlooked people (and let's be honest, most of them women) who physically make the clothes.


If you've ever wondered exactly what goes into the making of a couture collection, Karl just gave you a window into the process. Here, a recap of the moment.

78 seamstresses took centre stage

A major part of the thrill of attending a Chanel show is the big reveal, that moment when you walk into the Grand Palais to see what fantastical world Karl Lagerfeld has thought up next. 

Lagerfeld and some of Chanel's seamstresses

This is a man who created the ultimate Fashion Whole Foods, the chicest rodeo ever, and an enormous glacier (made of 265 tons of actual ice…imported from Sweden.). 

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#ChanelHauteCouture #ChanelAteliers #PFW

A photo posted by CHANEL (@chanelofficial) on

And while today's staging was relatively low-key (the set was physically smaller, the room felt more intimate), the impact of seeing 78 seamstresses at work, among reams of fabrics, toiles and trimmings, was significant. 

@chanelofficial ❤️❤️😱 #atelier #chanel #chanelcouture

A photo posted by Anna Cláudia Rocha (@annackr) on


It was also touching - because as the models walked past in the fruits of their labour, the atelier team looked noticeably proud.

Edie Campbell opened and closed the show

Wearing a very retro and somewhat challenging update on the trouser suit: a jacket with angular, two-dimensional shoulders and cropped culottes in lace and tweed respectively.

Edie Campbell on the runway for Chanel Haute Couture AW16

Tweed was a major running theme

Yesterday, I noted Dior's focus on its iconic Bar suit (a show that was also coincidentally dedicated to the atelier) and at Chanel, tweed (the house's iconic fabric of choice) ruled. 

Tweed on the Chanel Haute Couture runway

Even though both are fundamentals for each brand, there might be a bigger conversation in why two of Paris's most storied houses are devoting so much attention to its classics right now. 

Chanel Haute Couture AW16

In the same way investors are now shifting their money to gold, the safest asset of all, a beautifully made tweed suit can seem like a sure investment in shaky times. 

Chanel Haute Couture AW16

This season's update on the Chanel staple involved slightly exaggerated proportions: a cropped wide sleeve here, a flared pleated mini skirt there.

Chanel Haute Couture AW16

Shoulders are bold

They came with pointy tips, and shoulder pads, and geometric angles, and enormous Elizabethan shaped mounds of feathers — in a word, major.

Chanel Haute Couture AW16

Chanel Haute Couture AW16

And big dresses are back

Karl made a case for volume and glamour with full-skirted, heavily decorated dresses embellished with crystals, ruching, and, yes, more feathers. 

#ChanelHauteCouture #ChanelAteliers #PFW

A photo posted by CHANEL (@chanelofficial) on

This following a day of billowing skirts at Dior and Giambattista Valli. Good news for those who weren't convinced by the slip dress.

Sky high boots are trending

It's been a month of sightings — Rihanna and Beyoncé both wore them during their Wembley Stadium shows. Vetements showed elaborate trouser-length Manolo Blahnik versions with pockets. And now Chanel has done them up in slouchy suede, which gave the tweed suits a dose of youth and sex appeal.

Will and Willow Smith were there

On the best kind of father daughter date.

Father and daughter Willow and Will Smith at Chanel's Haute Couture AW16 show

And Jessica Chastain was too

Jessica Chastain At Chanel's Haute Couture AW16 show

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