A DAY IN PARIS WITH CHANEL
When Chanel invited us to discover it’s newest J12 XS watch in Paris, I couldn’t believe what was happening – not only because the House of Chanel is the Holy Grail of all luxury brands, but also as it is known for usually avoiding collaborating with bloggers, let alone Swiss bloggers. Our journey started the day after we came back from Italy, and only our excitement could match our state of tiredness when we woke up at 5am to catch the first train to the City Of Light. At that point I ignored almost everything about the watch we were going to discover, except maybe for the few pictures we spotted on Instagram through the hashtag #j12xs.
The presentation was held at 18, Place Vendôme, above Chanel’s iconic jewellery boutique, in a room entirely redesigned according to the J12 XS’ codes: monochrome, modern and sleek.
The J12 XS is an extension of Chanel’s flagship J12 watch, that was launched about sixteen years ago presenting masculine yet timeless aesthetics – qualities that turned to match perfectly with the modern successful women that we all are. The XS differs from it by the size, having a diameter of just 19 mm – but as a matter of fact size does not matter at Chanel, as this model comes in a huge variety of 4 different styles and 14 individual designs. There are the slim calfskin straps and cuffs coming in black, white or sequins embroidered, the black lambskin fingerless gloves (an obvious tribute to M. Lagerfeld) made by Maison Causse in a limited edition of 150 pieces, a large cuff version made of six slim black patent leather straps mounted with the watch dial and diamonds loops as well as a high jewelry ring version. The embroidered pieces really caught my attention as they were hand-decorated by the LESAGE ateliers that were to be discovered later that day.
And as if the J12 XS was not yet flawless, it also has the advantage of being separable from it’s accessories, and thus worn on it’s own.
After the presentation, we followed the team across the Place Vendôme to the Ritz Hotel for a light yet succulent lunch – now interesting fact, Coco Chanel and this Vendôme square are very linked, not only because it is where her jewellery boutique is situated, but also because she used to have her suite at the Ritz hotel for some 35 years and, for the most attentive of us, Chanel N°5 perfume bottle is modeled after the octagon shape of the square – yes I couldn’t help but purchasing the newly released “Tout sur le Ritz” (All about the Ritz) book by Claude Roulet the day after the presentation to spell out the mysteries of this gorgeous place.
Following this Ritz gastronomic (and visual) experience, we headed to the Lesage ateliers that so aroused my curiosity by those embroidered versions of the J12 XS, and, let’s be honest; I spent many years dreaming of their handwork whether it is during the Paris Fashion Weeks or simply while browsing my Vogue magazines – because basically when you see a richly embroidered, sequined, beaded or feathered garment going down the Chanel runway, this is a Lesage work of art you’re seeing.
Here are five key facts you need to know about Maison Lesage:
Maison Lesage has been created in 1924 and is contributing to the magic of luxury brands’ Ready-to-Wear, Couture, Haute Couture and accessories collections ever since.
Even though Maison Lesage became part of the Maison Chanel in 2002, the ateliers continue being independent and practice their unique craftsmanship for brands like Dior, Balenciaga, Schiaparelli to name only a few.
Boasting sixty thousand samples, the Lesage archives represent the biggest collection of couture embroidery in the world.
The house’s supplies are incredible as they have more than 60 tons of tassels, rhinestones, ribbons, beads etc sourced over centuries. And as we are into numbers, you must know that Lesage uses something like thirty kilos of beads and one hundred million sequins in a year.
Maison Lesage is a house of hand work – you will not see the shadow of a machine in their ateliers.
Though the part dedicated to the J12 XS was quite small, we still managed to get a few insights into the realization of the embroideries of the watch’s accessories. What struck me above all is probably the carefulness and the positive slowness of the process. There seem to be no rush at Lesage, each stitch require attention and we were not surprised to hear that one of these pretty hand-decorated cuffs takes seven to twelve hours to be made. « Of course we have deadlines » said a young embroiderer « but the priority is to make things right ».
This visit was a most highlighting experience: I really think that any person willing to work in the fashion industry should find it’s way to Maison Lesage. It allows you to understand the work that is being the beauty, as well as the quality behind the price.
Pictures : Charles Legrand, CHANEL
Special thanks to the CHANEL team