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Chanel creates Chair of Savoir-Faire at IFM

Chanel has created a Chair of Savoir-Faire at the Institut Français de la Mode (IFM), part of a five-year commitment to the leading Paris fashion college.

The Chanel Chair is the latest example of the luxury brand’s support for IFM, the rapidly developing campus on the Seine.

Underlining the importance of craftsmanship in this new academic creation, the project is entitled the Chanel and le19M Chair in Fashion Savoir-Faire.

19M is the giant artisanal center of excellence opened this year on the outskirts of northwest Paris, which groups the many craft houses owned by Chanel’s holding called Paraffection.

Chanel’s new goal is to develop a center of research and teaching excellence in savoir-faire for the college, aided by 19M. Among the houses at 19M are Lesage Intérieurs and its embroidery arts school; the Montex atelier and MTX, its decoration department; shoemaker Massaro; feather and flower expert Lemarié; milliner Maison Michel, and pleater Lognon, along with the creative department of Eres, the swimwear line of the extended Chanel group.

IFM is at the center of a plan being implemented by French luxury leaders in the hopes that Paris might finally create a college to rival schools in London and New York.

“It’s a subject close to our hearts. To link together brands and the college to help IFM evolve. To combine together many crafts and skills is, to us, primordial,” explained Bruno Pavlovsky, president of Chanel’s fashion activities, speaking at a press conference and debate inside the college.

“Its been Chanel’s goal for quite a while. Chanel has offered internships to many students from IFM for the past several years,” added Pavlovsky, who also happens to be the chairman of the executive committee at IFM.

“In this new academic year we welcome some 1,000 students, and about 300 will be doing studies in different métiers. One third of their time is spent on studying and learning about techniques. Our brief is to prepare our students to understand the ensemble of crafts and to make them multi-disciplinary,” Romatet noted.

Roughly one-third of IFM students study fashion and luxury management, but even they are given multiple opportunities to actually create real objects.

“That way they understand the language of creation, which is vital when they manage a fashion house,” the dean explained.

Moreover, on the first day of the master’s program, students spent their time looking at craftsmanship, and meeting talented artisans.

Romatet conceded that research and studies in fashion in Paris have lagged behind international rivals, despite the French capital being the leading fashion city in terms of runway seasons. However, he promised that IFM would rival the leading fashion colleges in the U.S., the UK, or anywhere else for that matter, within the next half-decade.

In a debate from the floor, Pascal Morand, executive president of the Fédération de la Haute Couture et de la Mode, which governs all Paris catwalk seasons, opined: “Creation and savoir-faire are the center of all we do. It’s vital for IFM and for the world of fashion. It’s paradoxical that France lags behind in fashion studies. It may be a question of structuralism. Precisely because our savoir-faire in France is so close to us we don’t appreciate it enough, and that’s why we didn’t construct a fortress to protect and develop it.”

A core element in this new chair is studying at 19M – a 25,000-square-meter complex that incarnates creation, boasting 600 artisans, a gallery and even a school of embroidery. Both Romatet and Pavlovsky stressed a further goal was the marriage of high-tech and low-tech; hand-made and technology, like 3D printing.

“19M is a magnificent space, and an absolutely incredible marriage of traditions from the 19th century with the most sophisticated technology, in terms of machinery and software,” enthused the IFM dean.

Pavlovsky, the key driver behind 19M, said a key goal was preserving many unique skills, to guarantee the future of haute couture, a uniquely French tradition.

“We are not doing this for Chanel, but for the industry. This course is not a recruitment project or drive. It’s also the chance to open doors, to meet and to professionally form a new generation,” stressed Pavlovsky.

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