I would like to share with you some wonderful web finds I’ve come across lately.
First of all, not to miss, is this LuxeTV short feature (click here) about the famous Parisian Maison Michel. The following information about Maison Michel comes from the website “Enterprises du Patrimoine Vivant”, a website that lists artisan enterprises from France:
In the 19th century, women didn’t go out with their heads uncovered. Yet will there be a place for hats in the 21st century? The answer is yes – but in other forms. While broad-brimmed hats may remain reserved for the races and the Grand Prix, weddings and ceremonies, caps, toques, turbans, cloches, berets, baseball caps and eyeshades are all to be seen parading the catwalks. And walking the streets.
Founded in 1936 by Auguste Michel, the House was set to become the appointed purveyor to the great fashion brands with the arrival, in 1968, of two experienced milliners, Pierre and Claudine Debard.
In 1975, Pierre Debard had the idea of having those marvellous straw-sewing machines, the Weissmans, repaired to make a new generation of sewing machines, and offering new designs in stitched straw to the great fashion houses. Pierre Cardin was the first to adopt them. Dior, Givenchy and Yves Saint Laurent would follow.
Kenzo and many others knew where to turn to ask the impossible : an extremely rare straw, a devilish drape, a mastery of satin, velvet, felt or leather. At Maison Michel, like nowhere else, we know how to finish a taupé or shear a boater for you.
The House has preserved over three thousand forms, sculpted in a soft wood, lime, which we use to produce the most beautiful – and often the most unexpected – hats. Our drawers are overflowing with an impressive stock of antique straws and felts. All the secrets of the trade are concentrated in the hands of a small cluster of specialist, complementary craftsmen: it is the chapelier (‘hatmaker’) who forms the hat, while the modiste (‘milliner’) sews, trims and finishes it. This unique expertise has been preserved by Chanel, since taking over Maison Michel in 1996.
A particular type of clientele appreciates the beautiful workshops of the Rue Sainte-Anne. They always come back, with wishes that require both dexterity and originality : cache-chignons, mink pillbox hats, pearl-beaded boaters, feather-trimmed capelines, felt cloches…
Also on the web site Enterprises du Patrimoine Vivant there is a (different) short video about Maison Michel. Click here to go there (once there click on the play sign to see it). You can also click on “know-how” to see beautiful pictures of the hat making process, and on “products” to see pictures of finished hats. If you feel curious, browse through the web site in search of other milliners and you will find little jewels like a link to the web site of Chéri Bibi milliners. There is a slide show of superb pictures on the main page, showing milliners at work, as well as details of machinery and materials, and it doesn’t stop there, browse through their web page and find the “guided tour” video (and don’t forget to click to see the other videos, like straw sewing machine, caps making and hat moulding, as well as their links page).
At a time when small specialized ateliers are disappearing, Chanel under the guidance of Karl Lagerfeld, has taken over, to ensure their survival, seven fashion specialized ateliers from Paris, one of them being Maison Michel. Lagerfeld also organized a special show for these artisans called “The Métiers d’Art collection”. The other artisans take over by Chanel are Desrues (costume jeweller and button maker), Lesage (embroiderers), Lemarié (feather artisan), Massaro (boot making), Guillet (flower maker), and Goosens (silversmith).
Not to miss is also this LuxeTV short feature about Belgian milliner Fabienne Delvigne. She makes hats for Belgian Royalty and talks about the profession and her beginnings.
Another interesting link is this snippet from a french documentary about hat making: click here to get there (they sell the full documentary about apprenticeships of artisan jobs… and I bought it, I will let you know about it when it arrives).
If all this has left you thirsty for more hats, now it’s the time to visit Jody’s wonderful blog about vintage fashion called Couture Allure, featuring now some fun comments and gorgeous hat pictures.
I hope you have also enjoyed the scanned pages from L’Officiel de la mode, showing Chanel hats from 1935.