Monday, July 11, 2011

Signe Chanel

Do you have any interest in sewing at all? Well then YouTube yourself up this documentary about the making of a Chanel collection. Forget models and magazines and money (well, not the last, not really); what you want to watch is the Chanel atelier in action translating a sketch into a garment. The movie is made with a lot of wit and style, and with a sense of where the real action is: Laurence's fingers straightening panne velvet ("like a little mouse!"), Martine waiting for Karl ("Who cares if he's left home?"), Jacqueline rejecting a shoulder pad ("This is trash! You can't get anything good anymore.") I could watch these ladies drape all day. It's interesting how in watching the movie I have the simultaneous sense of how well-managed the complex process of making of a Chanel garment actually is, and how frighteningly fragile the whole system is: if a head seamstress dies, an irreplaceable body of knowledge dies with her. It's easy to forget that while a $100,000 dress may seem like an extravagance the world can do without, it's based on a body of skill that takes generations to build, and can easily disappear if any link in the generational chain gets broken. Let's start a fundraiser for couture! Or maybe not. Whatever. You'll love the film.

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