Signe Chanel is one of those programs that I have watched five or six times, and I still find it amusing and intriguing. Made to show the development of the 2004 Fall Winter Couture, it starts with the Chanel seamstresses, or petite mains, waiting for Karl Lagerfeld to show up at the Chanel atelier with the sketches for the new collection.
This is not so much Lagerfeld’s story, but the story of all the many people who make the collection possible. Watching how the sketch becomes a reality is a marvel, even with all the missteps, and there are plenty of those. I always sympathize with poor Laurence as she remakes one particular dress for the third (or is it fourth) time. And dear Massaro, as he takes the shoe prototype back and forth and back and forth between his shoemaking establishment and Chanel until it is perfect, never loses his sense of humor.
Other highlights are the visits to Madame Pouzieux, the only maker of Chanel braid, on her horse farm in the French countryside. She’s grumpy, and getting grumpier. And in one episode, the mains talk about all the superstitions of their trade. Just don’t drop the scissors…
Of all the documentaries showing the inside workings of a design house, Signe Chanel is my favorite. I think I love it so much because it shows that there is still a level of clothes-making where the skill of the makers is just unequaled, and that luxury does still exist in the fashion world. No, I can’t afford it, but that does not mean I can’t appreciate it.
But even people who do not like Lagerfeld should enjoy Signe Chanel. He really is just one of many players. I do wish he’d stop clicking all those rings as that did get to be quite annoying.
This film was produced by Sundance, and it is not currently showing, but the entirety of it is on Youtube. You can watch the clip at the top of this post for a short taste, but when you are ready to devote two or so hours, the entire series of episodes can be accessed through the first clip, below. Enjoy!