factory visit

Workshop visit: At Chanel, it’s all wheat, no chaff



Chanel L'Epi brooch fine jewellery Les Bles de Chanel

When did wheat get such a bad rap? What was once revered for giving us our daily bread is now feared for making us fat, tired and irritable. Time for a rebranding campaign perhaps, but who would have expected the redeemer to be…Chanel?

In fact, the notion isn’t quite as eccentric as it seems if you know the history of Chanel. The young Gabrielle Chanel had humble beginnings, spending her childhood in the rural French region of Auvergne, known for its wheat fields. As a young woman she became friends with Salvador Dali, who once gifted her a painting of wheat, a gesture that symbolised success, growth and prosperity. From there on, wheat became one of the signature house codes, woven, embroidered and knitted into many a collection. Fast-forward to 2016 and the humble ear of wheat is the focus of some of the most extravagant Chanel pieces you can buy – from the ‘Les Blés de Chanel’ high jewellery collection. (more…)



Oh la la Lesage



inside Lesage couture embroidery studio with Chanel

“There is only one person who knows how to make this piece; this lady has been working here for thirty years.” This, and many other such factoids are the type of geeky nugget one gobbles up on a visit to the Lesage couture embroidery workshops on the outskirts of Paris. On an industrial estate that’s a step up from your average (think sun-dappled and tree-dotted), it’s where the hands of dedicated embroiderers stitch and bead Chanel’s finest couture showpieces. (more…)



In case you missed it – the Disneyrollergirl highlights



julia sarr jamois

2015 has been a busy old year for me. I’ve been juggling working on a book (ETA August 2016 – whoop!) with freelance writing for my regulars and consulting on a new brand. Trying to fit blogging around all that has been a challenge! But I’ve been privileged to work on some great collaborations, as well as getting some amazing behind the scenes access and insights that I’ve loved sharing. (more…)



Factory visit: Elgin calling



 Johnstons of Elgin Factory

When a brand invites you to visit their factory, it’s a sign they’re proud of their craft and story. And one of the biggest perks of being a fashion writer and blogger, is having that access. Not just getting down to the nitty gritty of how things are made, but understanding the real history of the brand and the provenance of its products. Hence my delight at getting the chance to head up to the Johnstons Of Elgin factory and design studios near Aberdeen one September morning, where the 218-year-old Scottish brand produces woven fabrics and scarves for its own line as well as an impressive roster of luxury brands.

A 7am Heathrow call time was followed by a swift BA flight to Aberdeen, where we were met by the sprightly George, who ferried us along scenic roads of lush Scottish landscape. Despite being braced for freezing gales and gloomy skies, we arrived at the picturesque Johnstons of Elgin HQ in a blaze of autumn sunshine and brilliant cobalt sky.

 Johnstons of Elgin Factory

While Johnstons of Elgin’s coveted cashmere knitwear is made in Hawick in the Scottish borders, the Elgin factory is reserved for wovens. From here it supplies Savile Row tailors with their suiting cloth and the world’s best luxury brands with shawls and scarves, including one famous for its monogrammed check ponchos and another for its equestrian motif blankets. (more…)