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Posts from the ‘Fashion’ Category

What goes into making a couture Chanel bridal gown (or three) like Sofia Richie’s

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Lily Rose Depp wearing Chanel Haute Couture Spring 2017 Pic: Lucile Perron

When Sofi Richie got married at Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc in Antibes, South of France last week she wore not one but three Chanel couture gowns: one for the rehersal dinner, one for the wedding ceremony and one for the evening reception. Here’s a look back at when Chopstix had a behind the scenes look at what goes into a Chanel couture bridal gown.

“A wedding is very special at Chanel,” says Madame Marie-Louise de Clermont-Tonnerre, the gloriously named and exquisitely dressed international spokeswoman who oversees the house’s couture division. The House of Chanel shares the same superstitions as other bridal establishments: garters are encouraged, the presence of anyone other than the bride’s mother and bridesmaids at the fittings is discouraged, and the groom is not allowed to see the dress beforehand to guard against bad luck – but there the similarities end.

“We don’t have racks of wedding dresses here. And a wedding dress is never reproduced – never ever,” says Madame Marie-Louise. “If you order it then it is yours, no one will have it again. For couture we can sometimes have two ladies wearing the same dress but with bridal, never.”

Chanel Haute Couture Spring 2017 Pic: Olivier Saillant

Number 31 Rue Cambon, Paris is steeped in tradition. The Chanel headquarters have been based on this narrow street, just along from the Ritz (so near that Coco Chanel once lived at the hotel), since 1923 and at its heart lies the coveted couture division. From a fairly unremarkable street level entrance, albeit one guarded by a security man, a curved Art Deco staircase leads up to the first floor salon.

Alternate cream and black leather chairs are laid out in neat rows for customers and journalists to view the twice yearly couture collections. Leading off here is the VIP room where an elite clientele choose from the collection and the ensuing fittings take place. [UPDATE: with the influx of Asian clients, Chanel also now holds intimate shows in China, Hong Kong and Tokyo.]

Chanel Haute Couture Spring 2017

For the customer, everything starts with the shows. “Ideally the bride should have gone to all the couture shows to choose the best one and of course she will choose Chanel!” says Marie-Louise. After the show she will make an appointment to discuss her choice and any adaptations she would like. These are all subject to Karl Lagerfeld’s approval, no changes are ever made to his designs without his permission.

Over a period of six to eight weeks a minimum of three fittings will take place: the first with the outfit made up in toile (a simple muslin fabric) and the last being a dress rehearsal complete with veil or hat and any jewellery to be worn on the day. “It’s obligatory,” says Marie-Louise explaining that it’s important to see the ensemble as a whole.

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Karl Lagerfeld at Chanel couture Spring 2017 with “the bride” Pic: Lucile Perron

Beyond the public spaces at Rue Cambon lies a warren of offices and workrooms sprawling over several floors where all the hard work takes place. On the fourth floor, overlooking the street and flooded with light from the enormous windows, is Karl Lagerfeld’s studio, once where Chanel herself designed and still bearing the words Mademoiselle – Prive – on the door. Dotted around the five floors are the three ateliers – one for tailoring, two for more fluid pieces like eveningwear – where the designs are turned into reality by a team of 100 workers.

Traditionally a robe de marriage is sent out at the end of the couture collection each season. Sometimes though the designated bridal design is not ‘the one’. “When Karl presents a wedding dress, possibly a bride wouldn’t want that one so we adapt,” says Marie-Louise. One season for instance a client ordered the bridal gown without the train, but more usually an evening dress will be chosen from the couture collection and modified. One second time around bride chose a white boucle coat for her winter wedding while another chose a jacket and pants worn with a veil and Chanel’s signature camellia. The now former wife of a famous musician tied the knot in a jacket from the technical ski collection.

Chanel Haute Couture Spring 2017

Mostly though, a wildly romantic evening dress such as La Rose – a pretty pleated tulle gown in pale pink – is chosen. An American client has expressed an interest in the design though Marie-Louise points out the decollete will have to be modified as she thinks it’s too revealing for a wedding. “For France, anyway,” she adds: “but maybe not for America.” All the pleats have been sewn by hand, graduating almost imperceptibly in width as the dress progresses towards the floor. The colour also graduates very subtly from palest pink at the top towards a slightly rosier shade at the hem. Only one person worked on this dress to ensure that the graduation was seamless, and it took a total of 200 hours to make.

At Madame Cecile’s atelier, men and women known as les petits mains (the little hands) are dressed in white coats and sitting at large table strewn with pencils, rulers and every conceivable shade of thread. They work on (seemingly) random delicate fragments of fabric, a pink silk bodice here, a black tulle sleeve there – that will go to make up a luxurious whole. Mannequins shaped and padded to resemble specific bodies and with discreet labels bearing names are dotted around the room. On the walls are sketches and Polaroids of the latest collection.

Madame Cecile is distinguishable by the absence of white coat and presence of cream and black Chanel tank and skirt. A small purse with telltale chain strap and interlocking Cs hangs around her neck, holding all the accoutrements of her craft. As premiere of the atelier, the highly skilled job of cutting fabric will only be entrusted to her or a specialist cutter under her supervision. She then decides who will work on a particular part of the dress. Between one and three “hands” will work on a wedding dress depending on the complexity of the dessing. The pleats, tucks, frills and ruffles are left to the more experienced hands and the beading, buttons, feathers and flowers are given to specialist companies such as Lesage, Lemarie and Desrues which have supported the couture industry for decades.

“The lady who made the dress will dress the bride at the final fitting says Marie-Louise. “It’s a very special relationship between the client and her fitter.” In the past, finished bridal gowns, like any couture purchase, have been wrapped in tissue paper and packaged in custom made boxes. The modern bride, however, prefers a light garment carrier as it’s easier for storage.

At the most lavish weddings the bridesmaids are also dressed in Chanel. One bride chose to have her dress – a printed taffeta in sweet colours – copied six times for child flower girls. “It’s very expensive,” stresses Marie-Louise. And this in a place where a couture gown (costing a minimum of tens of thousands of pounds to around £100,000) is referred to as “quite expensive”.

Later, from a room adjacent to the salon, La Rose is whisked out of the glass cabinets where it has been waiting with some other samples to be tried on by prospective clients. This particular frock is bound for New York where one lucky bride to be awaits.

[This piece was originally published in 2003.]

When Two Glamorous Worlds Collide: Fashion and Hotel Collaborations

The Essentials by Aman

Luxury hotels are collaborating with fashion designers on clothing ranges from one off limited editions to ongoing capsule collections or even creating their own brands.

Aman Resorts

Exclusive hotel brand Aman has launched a fashion collection inspired by its philosophy of creating sanctuaries in stunning locations and connecting guests to the spirit of a place. 

The Essentials by Aman, designed and made in Italy, comprises of active, swim, lounge, resort and knit wear plus accessories for men and women. The clean lines and subtle prints (the embodiment of stealth wealth/quiet luxury) are inspired by Aman destinations while the colour palette is also drawn from Aman’s locations. Think warm terracotta for Amanjena, Marrakech; sea blue and deep green for the azure seas and olive groves of Amanzoe, Greece; and warm yellow for the desert landscapes of Amangiri, USA. 

The Essentials by Aman

“Creating The Essentials has allowed us to work with some exceptional artisans to select the very best materials,” says Kristina Romanova, director fo product development at Aman. “We hope our guests will see the expression of the Aman brand in each and every piece.”

The collection is exclusively available at Aman boutiques with the range slated to expand with the addition of leather accessories and fine jewellery this autumn.

Eden Rock-St Barths

Virgil Abloh’s Off-White x Eden Rock-St Barths

One of the world’s coolest clothing brands has collaborated with one of the most iconic hotels in Virgil Abloh’s Off-White x Eden Rock-St Barths. “Off-White are huge fans of the island and there was a mutual desire to introduce a unique collection for those staying at Eden Rock – St Barths,” says a spokesperson for the hotel. 

The capsule collection features nine products for men and women and only 30 pieces are made of each. The island’s beach atmosphere is the inspiration for the range with fabrics such as raffia and linen and a colour palette of beige and blues. The label is only available at the Eden Being boutique at Eden Rock.

W Hotels

“Fashion is a fundamental part of W Hotels’ DNA,” says Jacob de Boer Dorrego, director of brand management for W Hotels. “Whenever possible, our hotels continue to support local designers and also sustainable practices.” 

Currently W Suzhou is partnering with fashion label Juma on a capsule collection of jumpsuits and separates which uses fabrics made from the hotel’s recycled water bottles and is available for sale at the hotel’s store. And W Maldives is collaborating with Hong Kong menswear label Mazu Resortwear to create two exclusive swim shorts with each pair made out of 12 salvaged plastic bottles. 

Le Sirenuse  

Emporia Sirens

The exclusive Positano hotel has its own eponymous clothing line, rebranding as Emporio Sirenuse this year, designed by Carla Sersale (who runs Le Sirenuse with her husband) and her niece Viola Parrocchetti. The idea behind the resort brand is to pay homage to the artists and writers who’ve been drawn to the Amalfi Coast since the 19th century. As Viola says, “There’s more depth to the setting than the Vespa and a basket of lemons”. Instead classical cultures and romantic visions are depicted in the prints and embroideries of the sophisticated men’s and women’s wear. 

Three collections – resort, spring/summer and high summer – are designed a year and is sold in the boutique at Le Sirenuse Hotel as well as online and at high end retailers worldwide.

One & Only 

Jay Ahr’s bespoke Louis Vuitton designs for One & Only

One & Only Heritage by Jay Ahr is a limited edition collection of bespoke, vintage Louis Vuitton travel bags. Jay Ahr designer Jonathan Riss mastered the art of embroidery in Mumbai and specialises in customising pre owned, exclusive designer bags. His approach of incorporating local inspiration in the designs seems a perfect fit for a hotel company with worldwide locations. 

Riss embroiders each LV Keepall duffle bag with motifs inspired by the particular location and culture of each of the group’s ten resorts. Just two bags are designed for each hotel and as such they are only available for purchase from One & Only. 

Mandarin Oriental 

Orlebar Brown for Mandarin Oriental

Orlebar Brown, known for its tailored swim shorts, is no stranger to collaborations most recently for the Mandarin Oriental. The London label has designed versions of its mid length Bulldog style for the MO featuring striking photography of the Mandarin Orientals outdoor, coastal pool sides in Dubai, Miami, Canouan, Bodrum, Sanya and Lake Como. An additional style features the hotel group’s famous Fan logo in a geometric jacquard design and is available from the Mandarin Oriental Bangkok.

Cheval Blanc Randheli 

Deluxe resort wear designer Nadine Arton has an on-going collaboration with Cheval Blanc Randheli in the Maldives.

The designer specialises in glamorous kaftans and floaty dresses which are perfect for wafting around the exclusive LVMH owned island resort. Arton creates exclusive pieces for the hotel three to four times a year which are available at the resort’s chic Concept Store. The boutique also carries LVMH labels such as Fendi sunglasses and Hublot watches.

We Wish you a Merry Beary Christmas


Polo Ralph Lauren bear sweater in sequin tux with champagne

And a Happy New Year!


Dreaming of a White Christmas?



You may want to settle for this Chanel evening bag, inspired by a ski resort cable car (snow not included).

Price upon request.


Top Rugby Shirts

The Rugby World Cup 2019 held in Japan has sparked a trend for rugby shirts. Here’s Chopstix’s pick of the top three.

Polo Ralph Lauren rugby

Polo Ralph Lauren

All the Polo Ralph Lauren “rugby shirts of the world” featuring a cute kicker bear are great. Here’s the USA one. From $119.99 (reduced from $168).


Hackett Wales rugby shirt


Hackett’s “home nations” vintage style shirts are lovely including this striking red Wales jersey (£135).


Kent and Curwen England rugby shirt

Kent and Curwen

Kent and Curwen has a range of vintage, England style shirts such as this embroidered number (£135).

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