"Tiny hands" let Paris haute couture sparkle

Tue Jan 26, 2010 6:32pm EST
 
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By Sophie Hardach

PARIS (Reuters) - Parisian haute couture designers mixed skill and science Tuesday in a celebration of the "petites mains," the nimble-fingered seamstresses who stitch together the world's most expensive evening wear.

At the Chanel fashion show, Karl Lagerfeld indulged in the ancient craft of embroidery from metal-encrusted shoulders on dresses to silver shoes embellished with pearls.

"It takes hundreds of hours, these people work so hard," Lagerfeld said with admiration for the "small hands" in his Paris atelier.

"For me, I just have the idea, a flash like that, I don't have to actually do it."

Stephane Rolland, a favorite with Middle Eastern royals and pop singers such as Cheryl Cole, worked with chemists to develop a supple form of red and black lacquer that he brushed on floor-sweeping gowns to dazzling effect.

Laser-cut discs of plexiglas were sewn onto fabric to create sculptural dresses in red and purple or white-on-white.

It took 10 embroiderers two weeks to attach the 26,000 pieces of plexiglas to Rolland's bridal gown, the final model in his collection.

"Haute couture has to be modern, up-to-date, exciting, and wearable. It has to be exported easily and preserve the image of French savoir-faire," Rolland told Reuters.   Continued...