Aired on Sundance
The fashion world is often viewed as a most glamorous one and there is certainly no shortage of glamour in the behind the scenes documentary, Signe Chanel: the Chanel head quarters in Paris house bright, incredible work spaces, the clothes themselves are almost inexplicably gorgeous (a wedding dress that will in particular make you gasp), and the mastermind himself Karl Lagerfeld is bejewelled and sunglassed at the height of impeccable style. However, it’s the true labor, care and dedicated hard work that goes into this collection (a memorably exquisite Fall 2004 collection) that film maker Loic Prigent, who also made the Day Before series I previously recommended, is most intrigued by. The seamstresses are every bit as important as Karl at the house of Chanel and to watch them interpret his free form, beautiful sketches into three dimensional pieces of couturier art is absolutely fascinating.
One of the most interesting characters revealed in the show is Madame Pouzieux , an elderly farmer who also creates the signature Chanel braids on her remote farm on a loom she invented herself over forty years ago. A local shoe maker with his made to order cobble shop and a beading house where women tirelessly bead one garment for days and nights with little rest are also given rare center stage in an industry obsessed with the rich, famous and showy. The humble awe he treats these tailors, seamstresses, shoe makers, beaders and braiders makes for a most intimate and slightly heart stopping look at fashion. It’s certainly one of the most interesting things I have seen on TV recently and a must for fashion fanatics – though just as recommended to those that turn their nose at fashion as art (isn’t it curious that those people often have no problem appreciating other art forms?).
Shot simply and beautifully on video, this feels intimate and you become involved in the arduous process of making a collection. It aired on Sundance during NY fashion week but is unfortunately not listed to be airing again soon but you can watch via youtube or on DVD from Amazon UK if you have a region 2 player. It’d worth seeking out this joyous ode to haute couture.