Every year Chanel shows off the genius artisanship of its couture workshops with its Metiers d’Art collection. Whilst the innate talent and years acquiring skills is owned only by a small group of artisans, it is possible to experience a little of what is involved in making some of these marvels.
London’s Atelier Millinery (above) offers workshops to the curious on some of the skills of couture millinery, including making bows and silk flowers. As an added bonus you can meet the milliners themselves- we met Georgina Blyth, maker of the rather stunning black capeline with lilac flower in this picture – a true heroine of modern millinery. Check out her work here.
Until experiencing the Bow Library workshop, I had no idea of the work involved in constructing a ‘couture’ bow or that I would ever be capable of constructing something at least approximating to one myself.
I have written before about Atelier Millinery’s workshops (making your own Downton Abbey cloche or emulating Bette Davis in a couture capeline) but the bow-making class is entirely different from the experience of making a hat. This really gives one a sense of what it must be like to work as a petit main in a couture atelier. The work is intricate, precise, complicated – by turns infuriating but equally intensely rewarding.
Best of all, I emerged with a rainbow of highly versatile petersham bows that I had made myself, ready to be attached to millinery, clothing, hairclips – whatever the heart desires. This is a brilliant way to spend a morning and the expert tuition of resident milliner, Tina, was patience personified. If you find yourself in London, make sure you check out these classes.