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CHANEL Series

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CHANEL Atelier

Just 24 hours before the big show. Paris

Just a few hours after checking into Le Meurice (we're still waiting on a Blue Ivy sighting), it was off to CHANEL's couture atelier; that's where all of the artisans (a.k.a. incredibly skilled couturier called "petites mains") are hard at work on the couture collection, which we would later see go down the runway (or your Instagram feed) only hours later. Located atop 31, rue Cambon, just above Coco Chanel's one-time apartment (oh yeah, we went there, too!), the atelier is where all of the magic really happens—pardon the cliche, but is there really a better phrase for it?

After being brought past the massive line outside the actual CHANEL boutique (yes, that still happens) we were lead up into the couture atelier itself. While you'd think the atmosphere just a day before the show would have felt rushed and frenzied, the team inside the atelier couldn't have been calmer—they were almost zen-like. In fact, the team didn't even so much as blink as we toured their space, even with our photog Jake snapping away at their then top-secret creations. We watched as the staff buzzed around us, putting finishing touches and making last-minute adjustments to the pieces.

As one member of the atelier's team working that day so aptly put it, "Couture is like architecture, in the sense that it has a foundation, and then you build on top; it's all about creating structure." In fact, once Uncle Karl has completed his initial sketches and the prototypes are fitted with muslin, the production time for each piece can total up to 1000 hours. Yup—that's often up to 300 hours to hand-embroider sequins or beading, with up to an additional 300 hours just to put the piece together. With each piece being made-to-measure, down to the exact millimetre, there's no detail too small for the team to attend to... and that shows in the exquisite final product. Need further proof? See the whole collection here up-close and personal. Look, but don't touch, please!

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