A Day in Paris With Nadia Gohar for CHANEL Haute Couture and a Visit to Ateliers Lognon

The CHANEL Fall-Winter 2023/24 Haute Couture show took place early morning along the bank of the Seine. Models walked past us at a steady, cool pace—some sporting small wicker baskets filled with fresh flowers, others with their hands in their pockets and large sunglasses to block out the city’s sun. One model strutted past with a big fluffy dog on a leash. Opening with Caroline De Maigret, the ultimate queen of cool and laid back attitude, scenes from the show evoked a day in the life of a Parisienne with the city as their backdrop.

Models wore their hair in a French twist, with loose wisps catching the breeze. Classic Mary Jane shoes in velvet black and two-tone gold/black was the footwear of choice for the cobblestone runway.

Haute Couture excellence was on full display, with embroidery techniques, feather-work, and intricate tweeds. One of my favourite looks was a dress covered with hundreds of white petals, which when moving through space, looked like a layer of cracked thick white paint had flaked away to reveal the darker base color of the dress.

After the show had ended, I headed to le19M to visit the House of Lognon, the atelier responsible for pleating at CHANEL. I have visited several ateliers over the years and always marvel at the level of intense craftsmanship and beauty each atelier presents; the archival element of the space itself, the knowledge and expertise of each artisan, and of course the magic that is produced.

To construct the multitude of pleats (boxed pleats, accordion pleats, Fortuny pleats etc) found in CHANEL garments, the process begins with a design that is carefully traced on a humble brown kraft cardboard. Each fold is then broken and pleated by hand to keep the form of the mold. The desired fabric (silk, organza, crepe, tulle, velvet etc ) is then laid out, positioned against the cardboard folds, and fastened into place using ancient-looking tools. Once the fabric mirrors the mold, it is then rolled up along with the paper and put into a steamer where it will cook for 1 to 5 hours.

During our visit, we watched two young artisans work in perfect synchronicity to lay out and pleat-treat a pink sheer fabric. Their movements looked like a rehearsed dance and recalled the final walkthrough earlier at the show when models came out in pairs, triplets and quadruplets—sometimes linked arm in arm and grouped together based on the fabrics and colors of their looks.

Photos courtesy of Nadia Gohar. Feature image courtesy of CHANEL.