In the rarified world of Parisian couture, specialized craftsmen, such as embroiderers, feather workers, milliners, goldsmiths and pleaters, are known as “Little Hands.”
Twice a year, the major haute-couture houses present unique pieces to showcase the talent of these tradesmen and their art. An exquisite example is Chanel’s day suit in ivory bouclé wool from its 2014 Fall-Winter collection. The surprising material chosen to embellish this sartorial flight of fancy? Rows of small, white concrete cubes woven with mohair threads and golden tubes. The concrete beads cascade from the front, cuffs and back of the jacket, creating a subtle sway with each step on the catwalk.
It took the artisans at Montex Atelier 200 hours to complete the fantastical embroidery. Based in Luneville in the Lorraine region of France, Montex developed a technique to imitate expensive lace designs in 1810. Over time, the Chanel empire bought Montex, and several other craftsmen’s houses, under a branch called “Paraffection” to revive and preserve haute-couture standards and culture. Haute couture garments can fetch up to €100,000, demonstrating just how valuable these traditional crafts are in the hands of a legend.