Want To Sound Like A Next Level Chanel Expert? Follow These Tips

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So you own multiple of Chanel’s bags, like its latest signature the Gabrielle, or you’ve made the iconic Chanel No. 5 a part of your everyday essentials... But do you really know Chanel?

If you do, then you should be able to rattle off everything to know about the French maison’s annual Metiers d’Art collection; the latest of which, dubbed Paris Cosmopolite, is currently in stores. But if you don’t, relax – we’ve got you sorted. We have broken down all the key things to know about this special annual collection that’s not quite ready-to-wear, or couture, or a Resort line. If you are really scratching your head by now, read on. It’s not just about getting that fashion edge above what some people might still label as 'basics'. It’s also about discovering a whole new spectrum of products that would set shopaholics’ hearts racing.

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For starters, it's pronounced "Me-tier D-ar".

In English, the French term “metiers d’art” translates more or less to the trade or profession of art, which is exactly what this collection – revealed annually in December – is all about. We explain more on the next slide. Remember, the “s” in “Metiers” and “t” in “d’Art” are silent.

A Metiers d'Art refers to an atelier specialising in a particular artisanal craft - and Chanel owns 11.

Since 1985, Chanel’s been acquiring such artisanal workshops with the aim of preserving and promoting their heritage, craft and skills – so much so that it launched a whole subsidiary arm named Paraffection in 1997 to oversee this side of the business. It started with the costume jeweller/button maker Desrues in 1985; followed by feather specialist/camellia maker Lemarie (1996); milliner Maison Michel (1997); embroiderer Lesage (2002); shoemaker Massaro (2002); the goldsmith Goossens (2005); fabric flower manufacturer Guillet (2006); crochet expert Montex (2011); glove maker Causse and knitwear pro Barrie (2012); and, the latest, the pleater Logan (2013).

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The Chanel Metiers d'Art collection is not a couture, or Pre-fall collection.

Chanel does couture – during the couture season, tapping onto the skills of the 11 metiers d’art ateliers it owns to create the looks and accessories (in fact, it does for just about any collection, including the main ready-to-wear lines every Spring/Summer and Fall/Winter). The brand’s annual Metier d’Art line however was launched in 2002 to specifically celebrate the work of the 11 workshops. Sure, it hits stores around the same time most other luxury brands launch their Pre-fall collections in boutiques (that would usually be around June), but it’s not the brand’s answer to Pre-fall per se. It is also completely unique to Chanel (after all, no other brand owns metier d’arts like it.) By the way, all 11 workshops continue to operate independently and supply other brands and companies too.

For every Chanel's Metier d'Art show, the venue matters a lot.

Among luxury fashion brands, Chanel has a rep for putting on some of the most spectacular runway shows. Its annual Metier d’Art show however takes that drama to the next level because it literally transports the whole collection (and fashion crowd) to an unexpected, often exotic city that is linked in some way – in the past or present – to the house. Previous locations have included Tokyo back in 2004 (which, if you think about it, was very progressive for its time); Edinburgh, Scotland in 2012; and Dallas, Texas, in the US in 2013. Beyond theatrics and glamour though, each city forms the backdrop and inspiration to the collection, which also means that the Metiers d’Art collections tend to be the brand’s most fun and surprising.

The latest Chanel Metiers d'Art show took place at The Ritz in Paris.

If Paris seems like a safe, even bland, choice of destination for the label’s 2017 Metiers d’Art show that took place Dec 6 last year, creative director Karl Lagerfeld had the most poignant explanation. “I think it’s not a bad thing for Paris, given all the (recent) Paris bashing, which I’m very much against,” he told press post-show. And, of course, the set-up was anything but bland. The venue was the legendary Ritz Paris, which – at the time – had just reopened after a highly anticipated, multi-million-dollar renovation. Kaiser Karl’s goal: to bring back the heady glamour and decadence associated with the hotel (and the city in general) during the golden age of the 1920s and 1930s (the hotel was playground and home to the likes of F Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway and – of course – Coco Chanel).

Actually correction: the latest Chanel Metiers d'Art show took place ALL OVER The Ritz.

For the first time, the show was replicated thrice: once for VIP customers during lunch; another for press during tea; and the last for the brand’s closest friends and industry insiders during dinner. Each time, guests were seated throughout the various, lavishly decorated rooms on the hotel’s ground floor – from the charming tea room to the handsome Hemingway bar (that’s where we sat for our session) – and got to drink, dine and be snap-happy as the models sauntered past. That’show Chanel does a Metiers d’Art show.

A Chanel Metiers d'Art show is ultimately about craftmanship.

Nearly every element within the collection taps onto and highlights the workmanship of the artisanal workshops the French luxury label owns – the extent and detail of which would surprise even the most ardent Chanel or fashion fan. In the case of the latest Paris Cosmopolite collection, the fingerless leather-trimmed gloves were made by Causse, which has been in the business of ultra high-end gloves since 1892. Apparently it boasts only about 30 craftsmen and craftswomen, and makes 25,000 pairs of gloves each year.

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The flower garlands from Chanel's latest Metiers d'Art collection aren't just any flower garlands.

Hand-crafted from tulle, organza and strass, they’re by the 137-year-old house of Lemarie and one can cost more than a Chanel 2.55 bag.

The embroidery on this skirt suit took a total of 90 hours to complete.

The opening look to the Chanel Metiers d’Art Paris-Cosmopolite show, the embroidery on the jacket took 68 hours to complete. That on the matching skirt? Twenty-two hours – all hand-done by the highly esteemed French embroidery firm Montex.

Total number of hours it took to complete the embroidery in this look: 185 hours

Again the work of Montex, founded in 1939 and known for its extremely intricate (and high-end) take on needlework, the embroidery on the jacket took 98 hours; the deep V-neck dress (worn inside), 67 hours; and that on those capri pants – 20 hours.

Those ultra trendy take on lace-up booties (white + patent), by the way, are by Massaro, which has been around for 123 years and used to custom-make footwear for celebrities like Elizabeth Taylor.

You can never predict the inspirations behind a Metiers d'Art collection - or how they would be translated into clothes.

Notice the particular greenish-blue tone of the intricate tweed weave in this jacket? It’s meant to recall the colour of the iconic indoor swimming pool at the Ritz Paris. Who helped to create this one-of-a-kind finish? The house of Lesage – the country’s oldest embriodery atelier – of course. As for all the buttons used throughout the collection, we’ve Desrues to thank.

This Chanel Metiers' d'Art Paris-Cosmopolite gown is true art.

The work of embroidery firm Montex, this pretty, floaty number boasts a needlework pattern featuring 16 Eiffel Towers; 5,300 glass stones and 34,000 sequins per dress. Just how long does an artisan take to complete each? A whopping 250 hours, with the use of the classic Luneville technique that involves hot-fixing every element by hand.

Possibly the ultimate: the needlework on this dress takes more than two weeks to complete.

Or 368 hours, or more than 15 days, to be exact. Created by Lemarie, it’s how it got those elaborate yet sophisticated gold trimmings.

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Story originally appeared on Female.

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