To manufacture an iconic Chanel bag requires 180 operations at the Verneuil-en-Halatte Ateliers. After having chosen the perfect skin, every piece of the body of the bag is cut out with the help of a template demarcating the pattern. The cutter's mission is to find the ideal points of cutting so that each piece can be perfectly placed and connected once assembled. The operation can be particularly complex for an exotic skin or even for tweed (the patterns must be impeccably aligned). One by one, the pieces are then "split" or thinned, to avoid an eventual asperity caused by seams. Thus prepared, the pieces are ready to be quilted by needle (except for the exotic skins) and then assembled. Meanwhile, the double C will have been sewn under the flap. First mounted flat on the underside, like a piece of Ready-to-Wear, the bag gradually takes volume. Body and base come together using what is known as the " bag in the bag" technique: a first bag is mounted to make the interior then a second for the exterior. Both are assembled by hand. The artisan can then turn both bags the right way around. Sewn together using point de brides along the sides, the two bags are thus united and form a whole. The finishing touches (manual braiding of the chain, piercing the eyelets, inserting and positioning of the clasp) require a last few delicate operations before the final inspection and packing, the ultimate ritual of meticulousness and delicacy.
Timelessness. This is the very essence of a Chanel bag. Endlessly reinterpreted by Karl Lagerfeld over the collections to be part of the zeitgeist, the bags always go beyond fashion. "Not too much respect and a dash of humour are essential to the survival of a myth" says the creator. With him, jersey alternates with denim, exotic skins flirt with leathers, silk prints explode with colour, embroideries feature ever more strass and sequins, LEDs diffuse messages over the flaps of the bags… Every season since 1983, tradition has met with modernity, all in the name of fun and creativity.
Tweed. A solid fabric made from carded wool, originally produced in Scotland. Its name is a derivation of the Scottish word tweel, meaning a cross-hatched fabric, probably influenced by the River Tweed, that flows over the border between England and Scotland. An essential element in the Chanel lexicon, Mademoiselle Chanel was the first fashion designer to adapt it for women's wear from the 1920s. Just like leather and jersey, tweed is inseparable from Chanel bags. Matching the Ready-to-Wear silhouettes, it swathes the bags completely or appears as touches, occasionally as a patchwork. In his collections Karl Lagerfeld explores every possible variation of tweed in a spirit that is as innovative as it is timeless: woven, frayed, fringed, sometimes embroidered, he allows himself vast creative liberty with this fabric.
Two-tone. While black and white forms the most famous Chanel duo, open a classic bag to discover the House's first ever pas de deux in colour: black and burgundy. The first, black, symbolises Gabrielle Chanel's taste for understatement. The second, burgundy, must clash to help women find their belongings at the bottom of their bag. Other associations followed, with black always as the common thread, opposed with white, or combined with navy. A key word in the stylistic vocabulary of the House, Karl Lagerfeld reinvents the two-tone season after season in his collections.