chanel bought us to preserve the knowledge and

Haute couture depends on many hands
cheap replica handbags Every day for three weeks in Montmartre, 45 seamstresses at the House of Lesage, France's oldest embroiderer, hunched over wooden frames feverishly stitching sequins, rhinestones and beads onto gossamer cloth. Their needlework is so intricate it seems spun from candied sugar. Defying the cheap louis vuitton bags from china official French 35 hour workweek, they are rushing to finish some 50 designs for the spring haute couture shows.
The women are among the treasured "petites mains" (tiny hands), artisans who labor in workshops, that have changed little in a century, doing the elaborate handwork that transforms a designer's dress into a sumptuous showpiece of luxury. They make ornamental silk flowers, curling the cheap replica handbags edges with heated tools that look like lollipops. They fashion peau de soie evening sandals on custom lasts and stitch straw for hats and polish buttons shaped like bows and plate them in gold.
Toil and training alone do not account for the obsession with perfection. A sense of cultural patrimony also drives these artisans. "It's a culture, a philosophy," said Francois Lesage, 76, the dapper general director of the 125 year old establishment, which he inherited in 1949 from his father, who bought it from the embroiderer for Charles Worth, the founder of French haute couture.
"It's a way to be dressed outside and inside," Lesage said. "It corresponds to a certain ethic of rigor and elegance without vulgarity."
Although it is aaa replica designer handbags not known how many artisans still work in France's haute couture industry, their numbers are dwindling. Especially diminished are the "fournisseurs," the artisans who work in outside workshops like Lesage, which specialize in a craft such as high quality replica handbags china embroidery or ornamental flower making. The dwindling number of regular clients, perhaps no more than a few hundred worldwide, explains why none of the fashion houses make money from couture that and the expense of the fournisseurs. None of the ateliers, or workshops, were willing to disclose what they charge the fashion houses, although one, the shoemaker Massaro, where 40 hours are needed for a pair of shoes, said retail customers for its shoes pay a minimum of $3,000. "But that's for two feet," said Raymond Massaro, 76, the founder's grandson, defending the price.
Since the 1920s, when there were about 10,000 French embroiderers, the population has shrunk to about 200, Lesage said. In St. Junien, a small city near Limoges that is the historical site of glove production, there were 120 glovemakers in the early '50s. Today only three remain, said Dimitri Soverini, a spokesman for Agnelle, a family owned couture glovemaker. In Paris 60 years ago, 300 people specialized in feather work. Today it's less than a handful. And yet to view the handworkers as quaint anachronisms would be a mistake, say the defenders of French fashion. Their skills are still central to French design. "Louis IV's minister of finance Colbert said that fashion could be for France what the gold mines of Peru were to Spain," explained Valerie Steele, the director and chief curator of the Museum of the Fashion Institute of Technology. "Fashion isn't necessarily about concept but about craftsmanship. You need the people to make the best ribbon, the best lace, the best hats. This is essential to keeping French fashion prestigious and creative."
The number of artisans is diminishing for familiar reasons: the market for couture is contracting, crafts workers are dying off, a younger generation is unwilling to carry on family tradition, and cheaper labor is available overseas.
To guarantee the future of at least some artisans, Chanel has bought six of the oldest workshops that no longer have heirs to run them: Lesage; Massaro; Lemarii, a designer of flowers and feathers; Michel, a milliner; Desrues, a button and costume jewelry maker; and most recently, Goosens, a goldsmith and silversmith. For the last four years Karl Lagerfeld, Chanel's designer, has paid tribute to the ateliers, which he dubbed the Chanel "satellites," by designing small clothing collections that showcase their handiwork. The fake designer bags most recent was shown in New York in December at the Chanel boutique on 57th Street.
Though Chanel subsidiaries, these ateliers can accept work from other houses and other clients. "Chanel bought us to preserve the knowledge and standard of what we do," said Tanguy de Belair, the chief operating officer high quality designer replica handbags wholesale of Michel. "They have the security of knowing they can get what they want from us, but they don't prevent us from working for others. We set our own prices. Lagerfeld tells us what to do for his show just as Marc Jacobs does for Louis Vuitton."
Costs have gone up
But not all designers are sanguine about the new ownership. Since Chanel bought Lesage in 2002, the American designer Ralph Rucci said, its work has at Designer Louis Vuitton Replica Handbags least quadrupled in cost, requiring him to be judicious in employing the venerable embroiderer and to branch out to other suppliers. At least one haute couture designer, Jean Paul Gaultier, has much of his handwork done in India.
On Rue Ste. Anne, a replica louis vuitton bags from china street near the Palais Royal once bustling with milliners, there is now only Michel, founded in 1936. The atelier employs 11 workers, who produce 4,000 hats annually. The process involves multiple steps: three seamstresses use a 19th Century sewing machine to stitch together strips of fine straw from Italy. Two hatmakers add stiffeners to the straw and felt, blocking them with pins and strings on one of 3,000 wooden head forms. The hats are dried in a large oven to maintain their shape. Six milliners then assemble the brims and the crowns, garnishing them with ribbons, lace and tulle. And all of this starts from a mere sketch by a designer.
Overseeing the production is Nicole Todero, 54, who began in the trade at the urging of her father, a train conductor in Paris. He wanted his daughter, then 16, to work as a seamstress to help support the family of 11 children. In 1986, when the couture business was booming, Michel hired her and trained her in the techniques of haute mode.
Just as Michel is the last of a disappearing breed so, too, is Lemarii. Founded in 1880, the atelier is the sole remaining feather workshop on Rue du Faubourg St. Denis, a street near the Gare du Nord once lined with similar establishments. The business was passed from generation to generation until Andri Lemarii (whose resemblance to Alfred Hitchcock has frequently been noted), retired in 2000.
The creative director, Eric Charles Donatien, 33, was plucked from a job sewing menswear for Hermes. "When I got here, the use of materials was very ladylike," he said. "I mixed the flowers and feathers together. I made the designs more abstract and concentrated on texture.
"To make something cheap louis vuitton bags from china uk more edgy I've ruched organza and shredded the edges to make them look like feathers, so you're not really sure what you're looking at."
Last fall, Kate Spade hired Lemarii to create fuchsia and black organza flowers when she introduced a small line of luxury bags and shoes called Collect, costing twice replica louis vuitton the price $600 to $1,800 of the regular Kate Spade line. "A lot of times you hear, No, this can't be done,'" she said. "But with Lemarii you hear what they can do. When they say, You can add this,' the work becomes a collaboration."
Centralized in Paris
Having all of this expertise centralized in Paris allows designers to realize their creative dreams in ways unparalleled anywhere else in the world. For instance, it is common for Michel to send a hat to Lesage for embroidery and then to Lemarii for plumes and petals.
"It's like a laboratory," said Lars Nilsson, the designer for Nina Ricci in Paris, who uses the ateliers to add couture details to his ready to wear cheap louis vuitton bags from china uk collection. "It's very Paris and quite unique because you have the connections and you can use two to three skills, like Lesage and Lemarii."

The demand for high fashion ready to wear in the last 15 years made ever more deluxe by couture embellishments has caused a business shift in many of the ateliers. At Lesage and Lemarii, for instance, 80 percent of the workmanship is done for ready to wear and 20 percent for haute couture. At Desrues, founded by Georges Desrues in 1929 in a workshop formerly at the edge of the Marais, the company has swelled from 20 employees in 1984 to 170 today. The original space could no longer accommodate the volume, so the workshop relocated in 1993. 


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