Who would imagine that behind some simple double doors in a working-class neighbourhood of Paris, was hidden a wealth of flowers? And not just any flowers: this is where the famous Chanel camellia was created, that which Gabrielle Chanel chose to transfer from her balcony to her designs more than fifty years ago.
The house of Lemarié, bought by Chanel in 1997, holds onto its roots. Established in 1880 by André Lemarié’s grandmother (Lemarié, who, until not so long ago still wandered the workshops), the “creation of feathers for finery” developed with success and the company became, over the years, the primary feather worker in France. Founded in a competitive environment (in 1900 there were more than three hundred feather workers in Paris), it developed to become a benchmark in its field, if not the only feather workers in France. Its longevity is due to the exceptional knowledge of those who work there: the delicate work with feathers which are dyed, refined, curled and pounded and of which there is a remarkable collection, hidden in boxes as old as the company itself. The flower work which takes place, creates the famous camellias of which twenty thousand are delivered to Chanel every year, in tweed, fur, satin and, even occasionally, in plastic or cardboard. Each of these demanding hours of work depending on the complicated nature of the design. Lemarié also demonstrates its talents in tailoring; delivering smocking, inserts and ruffles to the top fashion names: naturally Chanel, followed by faithful customers which include Dior, Balenciaga, Valentino and Givenchy.