Discover CHANEL: CHANEL Handbag Factory

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On the final day of the Discover CHANEL program, my fellow bloggers and I were whisked away to a super-duper secret location outside of Paris to visit the CHANEL Handbag Workshop…aka the place where the brand produces their timeless bags. It was the very first time that CHANEL had invited bloggers to visit this workshop, and I can’t explain just how lucky and grateful I felt to be able to see and experience the step-by-step process from development to quality control.

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After being greeted by a giant CHANEL bag installation in the lobby, we were ushered into the room where the development phase takes place. With prototype bags lining the walls, sketches and photographs strewn across a table, we were told that this was the first step in creating a bag. Sketches come to life as prototype bags, before it’s decided whether they’ll actually be produced. With 6 collections per year, this is a busy place, where a bag can go from sketch to production in days.

Moving on, we stopped by the raw materials and hardware rooms. One was full of various skins, leather, and signature chains, while the other had trays of iconic CHANEL bag closures that are put through stringent testing, along with chains and leather, to ensure the highest quality and durability. Being in the raw materials room was so tempting…I was dying to create my own bag out of all the components on hand.

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Next, we popped into a room where leathers like lambskin, calfskin, and others are carefully inspected under special lights that mimic daylight. Each piece has to look and feel perfect before it’s allowed to continue on to production. There’s zero tolerance for imperfections, as expected.

After the hardware and the leather have been thoroughly checked and tested, the next stage of production is cutting. There are three different ways that CHANEL bag patterns are cut: by hand, digitally, or using special metal plates. We watched various methods at work, fascinated by the amount of accuracy it takes to cut those patterns. When dealing with hand-cut exotic skins, precision is even more important, to ensure a symmetric end result, and zero imperfections.

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The most fascinating room of all was the assembly/production room, where CHANEL craftspeople split leather (to make it thinner and smoother), assembled bags, stitched and hammered. It takes 4 to 5 years for each specialist on the site to learn how to perfectly master the techniques necessary for the manufacture. Those working with exotic skins wear masks and gloves to ensure that no droplets mark the delicate surface, even going so far as to use plastic wrap on top of skins to protect them further.

What I learned in the assembly room is that CHANEL bags are actually put together using one of two methods: inside-out, and molded techniques. Most iconic bags are made using the inside-out method, where all of the components of the bag are stitched inside-out like a Ready-to-Wear piece, so that the stitches are on the inside when the bag is turned the right side out. The body and base are brought together with the “bag in bag” technique: the interior bag is mounted inside the exterior bag, assembled by hand, and ensuring a luxurious finish inside and out.

When working with more delicate materials like alligator, and turning the bag inside-out is not an option, the moulding method is used. The outer part of a bag is put together around a mould, and hand-stitched, before the inner flap can be dropped in and stitched together with the outer flap.

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All in all, it takes over 180 manufacturing operations to create one iconic bag, with 80% of the total production time spent on the assembly table. Once the bag is finished, it is then sent to the quality control room, where a team of testers painstakingly check each bag by hand. But thanks to the attention paid in all the other parts of the manufacturing process, the success rate is very high, and most bags that reach this phase of production meet the CHANEL standard.

This room was amazing, as we were faced with rows upon rows of finished CHANEL handbags everywhere – what fashion dreams are made of! And just like that, our magical tour was over. Talking to the passionate craftspeople, seeing the extensive step-by-step process, and learning just how much work and intricacy goes into each and every CHANEL bag made me appreciate the few bags that I do own that much more…and fuelled my desire to run to the nearest CHANEL boutique right after our visit. These bags are truly investment pieces that never go out of style, and knowing that they are made with so much love and attention to detail makes them that much more special.

This was the last day of the Discover CHANEL program – three unforgettable days spent with my favourite luxury brand in my favourite city. From the fitting at ave Montaigne, to the breakfast at Brasserie Gabrielle, to Mademoiselle’s apartment, to the CHANEL handbag factory outside of Paris…it’s definitely one experience I will never forget. And I truly hope that my recaps of the program gave you a fun little glimpse into the beautiful world of CHANEL, so that you could discover it along with me. Thanks for reading, and share your thoughts in the comments!

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More images after the jump!
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My CHANEL Haute Couture Fall 2014 Appointment

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Last month, while attending NYFW, I was invited to stop by the CHANEL showroom (!!!) to check out the CHANEL Haute Couture Fall 2014 collection in person. I don’t need to tell you that right after I was done pinching myself, I replied with an emphatic YASSS. I had a chance to visit the haute couture salons in Paris, and already knew that the level of craftsmanship of CHANEL couture garments is next level, so to be able to see yet another collection up-close-and-personal, sounded like a dream.

Just like in July, I was in awe of the collection. But this time around, I actually got to touch the pieces, see them in front of my eyes, and imagine that they were hanging in my wardrobe (as if!). I got to see how cool the silicone-coated lace looks, how glam concrete beads are in Karl’s imaginative hands, and just how exquisite the endless intricate embroidery on gowns, coats, and accessories is. But let’s get back to concrete. Those grey bead-like detailing is actually concrete! And surprisingly, it wasn’t as heavy as one would imagine. Sure, the shrug covered in hundreds of those beads wasn’t exactly light, but pieces that had concrete sprinkled on were perfectly manageable, and of course, stunning. Who would’ve thought?

The use of molded scuba fabric also made for some dramatic silhouettes, flattering, but never boring. I was a little sad that I didn’t get to see the puffy blue confection of a gown in person, so in its absence, the red dress blooming with small plastic flowers became the showstopper of the collection – both classic and modern at the same time, and so-very-beautiful. It’s at times like those, I find myself wishing I could live a jetsetting and glamorous life of scandal and intrigue, where CHANEL haute couture is par for the course, and parties where one gets to wear creations like the ones I saw are commonplace. I may be referring to a movie-level type of life, but one can always dream, no?

Anyway…enough of my obsessive ramblings. Check out some close-up photos I took at the showroom, and let me know if you find these as impressive as I do.

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Chanel Haute Couture Fall 2014 Collection

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I am so excited about Paris Haute Couture fashion week, you guys! If, like me, you’ve been missing the excitement and drama in fashion lately, now’s the perfect time to feast your eyes on the hautest gowns of the upcoming season. And while some couture shows left me bored to tears (or nearly), thank goodness for CHANEL, and of course, Karl Lagerfeld. Love him or hate him, the man’s got imagination.

CHANEL Haute Couture Fall 2014 show featured a variety of surprising elements, including what looked like fancy flip flops worn with exquisite gowns, a pregnant model closing the show (apparently Karl loves the pregnant ladies, who would’ve thought?!), messy feathery up-dos topped with Maison Michel’s tiny hats, and a Kardashian strutting her stuff on the runway. *I wonder if Kim’s jealous of Kendall’s fiery rise to the top? I mean, walking in a CHANEL show and having Karl’s approval has got to be more meaningful than scoring half of that VOGUE cover, amiright?

But no matter, despite the pared down setting (no supermarkets or icebergs at this show), the clothes spoke for themselves. Karl’s modern vision, infused with baroque touches and youthful styling, resulted in a dazzling, but still wearable couture collection. One that I am certain we’ll soon see on various red carpets (most likely on Keira Knightley, Diane Kruger, and the like), and I honestly can’t wait! I especially want someone to wear that poofy feathery blue confection…I think with softer hair, it can look both cool and ethereal…also, I am kind of obsessed with it.

But tell me, what do you think of CHANEL Haute Couture Fall 2014 collection? Are you as obsessed as me? Share in the comments.

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More photos after the jump!

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Happy Holidays From Canon Blogtography!

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Earlier this month, my fellow Canon Blogtographers and I were treated to a second photo session with fashion photographer Steve Carty, this time learning all about portrait photography. Right in time for the holiday get-togethers, where photos will inevitably get snapped, but not always ones you would want to keep. Steve showed us how to get the winning shot that your family and friends will keep and treasure for years to come!

To learn a bit about portrait photography, our assignment for the evening was to shoot a head-on portrait in black and white, shoot a holiday portrait, a holiday scene at a dinner table, and finally a portrait with very low light. Here’s what I learned about getting THE SHOT!

1. Use Creative Filters

One of the best things I learned about my Canon camera is that I don’t need to use Photoshop to spice up my photos with cool effects. With fun creative filters like Toy Camera, Monochrome, Fish Eye, Soft Focus, Grainy Black and White, which can also be layered, you can take any photo from boring to awesome. When using these Creative Filters in-camera, you don’t have to worry about losing your original image, because your camera will save an edited copy automatically. I used the Grainy Black and White filter on the below photo, and love how it turned out!

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2. Crop It

As I mentioned before, Rule of Thirds is a good one to follow. You can make any photo stand out by simply cropping it to make sure that the eye is drawn to the subject of the photo and not to the background or other random things in the picture. You can achieve this without having to do any post-production work by using various aspect ratios in-camera. If you want your image to be perfect for Instagram, use 1:1, want a standard image – use 4:3, want your photo to look good on a widescreen display – 16:9 is your go-to aspect ratio.

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More after the jump!

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Daria…and Roses By…

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So…this happened at Lancôme’s Luminato party last week – photoboothing with DARIA, y’all! Never even knew that this one was on my bucket list, but now am totally putting it on said list and crossing it off. Photoshoot with Daria Werbowy – CHECK!

As for Lancôme’s “Roses By…” exhibit, its final stop is in Toronto and is currently being shown in the main lobby of First Canadian Place, from June 14th to 20th, 2013 for the very last time, so make sure to check it out. “To celebrate (the rose), Lancôme has given carte blanche to twenty international photographers, from Peter Lindbergh to Patrick Demarchelier, Sølve Sundsbø to Nick Knight, in France, the United States, China and England, to create their personal interpretation. Twenty uniquely talented artists, all of whom have fostered a close relationship with Lancôme over the years. The end result is twenty works, in colour or black and white, which are powerful or moving, hyperrealistic or symbolic, but always sublime!” The photos are stunning, so try to check out this exhibit while you still can.

What I Wore: Dream Wardrobe

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How awesome is this illustration of me rocking my dream Spring 2013 pieces like the now-infamous checkered Louis Vuitton dress and these hot-to-trot Alexander Wang sandals?! Pretty amazing, non? Well, this is all thanks to my friend Marcus, who introduced me to artist Kathryn Wilkins and her lovely blog LOOKBOOKILLUST! Once I saw the multitude of gorgeous illustrations and the attention to detail that Kathryn puts into her pieces, I knew I had to commission her!

This isn’t the first piece that Kathryn did of me, but it’s the one I asked her to do for my blog’s new header. If you’ve been reading for a while, you know that I’m (very) slowly changing up the look of the site, and this adorable addition is just what Style Blog’s been missing. While deciding on what to “wear” for this illustration, I decided to go with aspirational dressing, rather than my good-old real clothes. Just because I can’t afford the entire Louis Vuitton Spring 2013 collection doesn’t mean that cartoon Nelia can’t.

If you like this illustration and would like one of yourself, or your dog, or yourself and your boyfriend/friend/husband/mom/goldfish, Kathryn is still accepting commissions, so if I were you, I’d jump on that before some huge company scoops her (and her talents) up. She already got a fun gig working for Bourjois, so who knows what’s next for this amazing woman!

What do you think of cartoon Nelia? Do you like Kathryn’s work? Share in the comments!

One more illustration after the jump!

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What I Wore: In Living Color

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How awesome is this illustration created by the lovely Monica Smiley??? From the Style Blog logo on my iPhone, to the H&M floral pants and Chanel bag, I love the way this talented illustrator captured my style! Monica’s company Eighty Seventh St specializes in fashion-inspired greeting cards, and custom couture, and I’ve been a fan of her work for a while now. And finally…I have my very own Smiley original!

If you’d like a customized illustration of yourself (or your loved ones), or perhaps a box of her beautiful Holiday cards, head on over to Eighty Seventh St…I guarantee you’ll fall in love.

So…back to my illustration. What do you think? Share in the comments!

TIFF 2012: Movies, and Galas, and Actors…oh my!

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TIFF 2012 is coming, and excitement is in the air! For us Torontonians, TIFF is akin to Christmas+Birthday+Anniversary+The Oscars all wrapped up in a few days of celeb spotting, film watching, and then discussing it around the watercooler with friends/co-workers/anybody who would listen. Each year, I get a few personal highlights out of the TIFF experience…like that one time I took a photo of my friend Joanna holding hands with Brad Pitt (!), or that other time, when Ryan Gosling and I locked eyes for a few seconds, or another time when I took le bf to see a Kazakh movie with a scene of a baby lamb being born…that lasted for several minutes uncut. Yes, being in Toronto during TIFF is awesome. And this year’s film lineup is looking especially promising.

Some of the films I can’t wait to check out are Argo (with Ben Affleck), Anna Karenina (with Keira Knightley), Thanks for Sharing (with Mark Ruffalo), The Silver Linings Playbook (with Katniss…errr…Jennifer Lawrence), Cloud Atlas (with Tom Hanks), Imogene (with Kristen Wiig), Inescapable (with Joshua Jackson), and the opening film of the festival – Looper (with Joseph Gordon Levitt). Ryan Gosling is rumoured to attend the festival once again, this time for his second film with Derek Cianfrance – The Place Beyond The Pines. If all goes well, I might be watching A LOT of films this September! And don’t even get me started on all the style porn! Really looking forward to seeing Keira Knightley, Rachel McAdams, Gwyneth Paltrow, and others bring it on the red carpet!

So what about you? Are you planning on attending TIFF this year? Which films are on your must-see list? Will you be celeb stalking? Have you bought your tickets yet? Share in the comments!

Film list after the jump!

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Giveaway: One of a Kind Christmas Show and Sale

One of a Kind Christmas Show 2011 is coming to town at the end of the month, and I seriously cannot wait to check out my favorite artisans, and to discover some new ones. Especially, since this year, I am all about collecting unique trinkets for our wedding. If you are on a hunt for amazing Christmas gifts, I know you’ll be able to find them at the One of a Kind Show! Seriously, that place is a gold mine (of presents). And to help you out, I will be giving away a pair of tickets to the 2011 Christmas Show and Sale in Toronto to one lucky reader!

Here’s what you have to do to win:

1. Leave a comment (1 per person, please)

2. Tell me which artisan(s) have you intrigued

3. For extra entries, please RT the following: “@styleblogca I’d love to win @OOAK_Toronto tickets! http://wp.me/p1WxbY-3bL #OOAKX11”

4. You don’t have to be a follower, but it’s always appreciated

5. This giveaway is open to Canadians only. Transportation to and from Toronto not included.

6. C’est tout

This contest closes on Thursday, November 10th at 11:59pm. Good luck!

And the winner of a pair of tickets is…drumroll…JennC! Congrats!!! I seriously wish I could give each and every one of you a pair of tickets, but if you didn’t win this time, check back, as our Style Days of Christmas are starting, and you really wouldn’t want to miss it!

TIFF 2011: Swarovski Fashion Suite

Ahh, TIFF! Celebs in town, gifting lounges all over the place, and parties, parties, oh, and did I mention PARTIES? Yes, Toronto is the place to be during the first two weeks of September – there’s no doubt about it!

Last week, I met up with my blogger/real-life friend Monica to check out the Swarovski Fashion Suite at the Four Seasons Toronto. Not knowing what to expect, I was stunned by the one-of-a-kind pieces displayed.

Making its one and only Canadian appearance, was the handcrafted Daniel Swarovski Catwalk Collection, which included both clothing and accessories – all of which looked both stunning and unique, adorned with crystals, feathers, sequins, and leather…oh my!

And though, only real stars got shiny baubles to wear on TIFF red carpets, checking out the swanky lounge and oggling the priceless pieces (seriously, these are not for sale) was fun enough for us. Though I would definitely not complain if I had something this glam to wear to TIFF parties!

More photos after the jump!

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