A single Chanel coat takes over one year to make
As Paris Couture Fashion Week draws to a close, Chanel’s creative director, Karl Lagerfeld, reveals just why people splash so much cash on the ultra-expensive garments.
The world of fashion seems to be in polar opposites at present. On one hand the media plaster us with graphic reports detailing the dreadful conditions of sweatshops abroad, where thousands of items of clothing are churned out each day by factory workers suffering from poor pay. On the other hand we have just been treated to the delights of Paris’ Couture Fashion Week, home to the most extravagantly expensive garments ever made.
Though the display of couture collections might seem like a fashion fairground to the rest of us, there exists a species of super-elite individuals who actually browse in order to buy. Often not even stocked in the likes of luxe department stores Selfridges and Harvey Nichols, couture customers routinely spend a minimum of £30,000 on a single outfit. For those reading this and recoiling in horror, yes, you heard right. One outfit could cost more than a year’s wages for many individuals.
Relying on such loyal, wealthy followers, couture designers have never been fazed by the real world’s reaction. And to be honest, most of us ooh and aah without really understanding or knowing the price points of the garments. This season, however, Karl Lagerfeld, Chanel’s creative director has taken it upon himself to explain the logic behind such frivolous cash flashing.
‘Couture has to be something nobody can do. You know the tweed is not tweed – it’s embroidery, all done by hand,’ notes Mr. Lagerfeld. Continuing to describe ‘a coat with no sleeves that took 3,000 hours to make’ suddenly the price point versus logic argument seems to be levelling out (though we’re not urging anyone to take out a loan to buy).
The 3,000 hour mark isn’t just because of slack handymen taking cigarette breaks every five minutes either. In fact, Chanel employs the world’s most skilled couturiers – known in Paris as Petites Mains – embroiderers, button makers and weavers. To say the work is intricate would be an understatement.
So, if the craftspeople clock in at an average eight hour day (doubtful in the run-up to show weeks) it would take 375 days to make just one coat. And that’s a coat without any sleeves.
We’ll just console ourselves in the comfort that a coat with no sleeves would be an impractical purchase in this unpredictable British weather, never mind the £30,000 price mark.
Picture credit: Francois Mori/PA Images