Exclusive: At The Atelier For Chanel’s Casino Couture AW15 Collection. Move Aside Kendall – We Saw The Clothes Being Made…

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  • Only Karl could get Kristen Stewart, Julianne Moore and Rita Ora to play roulette on the catwalk...Marie Claire got a special behind-the-scenes tour of the atelier the day before the show. See the collection up close and read on for some fascinating Chanel-couture secrets from our visit

    It’s the biggest spectacle of Couture week, the one that makes all others pale in comparison…yes, roll up, roll up, as Karl Lagerfeld’s latest collection kicked the catwalk-set-as-spectacle bar up another notch.

    For AW15, he took the A-list into an exclusive world of glamorous gambling – turning Paris’ Grand Palais (where Chanel has showed since everyone who’s anyone can remember) into a casino.

    Seated with the best view in the house at giant roulette tables in ‘Le Cercle Prive’, Kristen Stewart, Julianne Moore and Lara Stone all put their best poker face forward for a game or two in front of the world’s press.

    Each of their looks were made specially for the event, and teamed with diamond jewellery from the 1932 Collection, a set of modern day re-issues of dazzling Art Deco pieces created by Coco Chanel in 1932. (In heart-stopping news for couture lovers, both the couture fashion collection and the 1932 jewels will go on show at a special exhibition at London’s Saatchi Gallery this autumn. Stay tuned for further details)

    Games aside, on the catwalk it was business as usual. Well, if you can call the most exquisite hand-sewn ostrich feathers business. Monsieur Lagerfeld went to town with technology, creating ‘3D suits’ made using a special lasering technique to produce pieces that were painted, embroidered with beads, or braided in leather. “The idea was to take the most iconic jacket from the 20th century and turn it into a 21st century version which was not technically possible at the time it was born,” he said.

    For evening, voluminous dresses had a doll-like, full-skirted silhouette and came crafted from tulle, lace, organza, duchesse satin and chiffon. The final twist? Kendall Jenner closing the show in a white satin tuxedo, complete with tulle embroidered veil, instead of the traditional finale wedding gown.

    The day before the show, we were given an exclusive peek into the Chanel couture ateliers to see some of the pieces still being finished and to meet the premieres of the atelier – the head ladies who oversee the ‘petits mains’ (the seamstresses). For the full story, you’ll have to wait for our November issue. But here are 4 things we thought you’d like to know…

    Photographs by Kris Atomic for Marie Claire

    1. Karl Lagerfeld is a night owl
    The atelier ladies revealed that the indefatigable Mr Lagerfeld likes to do fittings at night. What with the demands of his non-stop schedule, we’d probably have to stay up quite late to get it all done too…

    2. The Chanel couture ateliers can sew anything – including concrete

    Every season brings a new technical challenge. Last season, one of the materials Karl wanted to work with was concrete, which was turned into a special lightweight consistency and crafted into embellishments for some of the looks. This season’s feat of technical wizardry? The use of a type of plastic, which was shredded into ribbons for a gold and white gown. The problem of stitching it was solved by coating it to make it easier to handle.

    3. Each look wears its own cotton cape

    When the looks aren’t being worked on, they are covered at all times, the ladies told us strictly, shuddering at the thought of crumbs, spillages, dust and other possible threats to couture perfection. Each of them is swathed from top to bottom in what looks like a fine cotton cape – as our budget doesn’t quite stretch to hand-stitched ostrich feathers, we’d be happy with one of those, honestly…

    4. It was the flou premiere’s first-ever Chanel show

    Given that the couture industry is staffed by ladies who work at the same houses for decades, having a new team member is big news for any atelier. So this collection was extra-special for the team, given that it was the first ever overseen by Madame Olivia, the brand-new premiere for one of the house’s two ‘flou’ (soft looks, as opposed to tailoring) ateliers. Young, glamorous, and extremely talented, she confessed to us that she was a bit nervous – but thanks to the amazing skill and expertise of her team, quietly confident at the same time. We think she probably shed a tear or two backstage earlier today…

    For the key looks from the Chanel couture show, click through our gallery above.

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