Chanel Haute Couture

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[I] had never photographed couture before, but I had dreamed about it for years, ever since my first meeting with CHANEL. To see, to touch, to photograph something so special, so one of a kind, would become one of my greatest honors. I think every great photographer has their first “couture story”…the pieces are so rare that couture comes with quite a bit of fuss.

Coming straight from the runway in Paris, the fall 2014 Chanel Haute Couture collection visited New York for two days. I could have the pieces from 7pm to midnight at our studio which took three guys and two guards to carry up. The garments lived up to all my ideas of what haute couture is: immaculate quality, so intricate you could get lost in the details…fascinating aspects to the construction, just layers upon layers of depth and design. It is, quite simply, wearing art. Photographs will never capture the way the beauty feels in person, it’s like seeing a photo of a Botticelli painting online and standing in front of one in Florence. It brought tears to my eyes.

So what is haute couture?…

Haute couture, meaning “high fashion”, can be traced back as early as the 1700s at the court of Marie Antoinette, but the father of haute couture was Charles Frederick Worth, the man who changed the public perception of dressmakers from laborers to artists. At his atelier, he would create a living portfolio, a display of his work on models from which clients could choose a piece for themselves.

From this foundation, many couture fashion houses were born – so many that the term “haute couture” is actually defined and protected by a committee in the French government who have certain criteria in order for a fashion house to meet the haute couture standard. At the beginning of the twentieth century, there were well over a hundred houses considered haute couture, now there are only around a dozen.

Chanel is one of those legendary haute couture houses. Beginning in the 1920s, Coco Chanel revolutionized the fashion scene by ignoring typical fashion standards – creating a false bust and hips, using corsets to narrow the waist – in favor of fashion that allowed for women’s comfort while creating a new kind of polished style. As Coco continued to design until her death in 1971, Chanel became well known for creating fluid, effortless pieces that oozed glamour and sophistication. Today, under the vision of Karl Lagerfeld, Chanel continues to set the bar for the haute couture side of the fashion industry… to say the least.

So here we are, on an early autumn night at our studio, the windows are open with the distant sounds of New York city flowing in as stylist Kelly Framel is dressing our model, actress & artist India Salvor Menuez and I am standing on set ready to go to another world- one in which only Chanel can take me.


Clothing & High Jewelry by Chanel Couture // Modeled by India Salvor Menuez // Styled by Kelly Framel //  Makeup by Christine Cherbonnier // Hair by Joseph DiMaggio // Manicure by Angel Williams //  Concrete Mural by Mr Perswall for Wallpaperdirect

All things CHANEL here

  • Tarragona IN

    What a pressure to have to 2 gards at the studio!!! It seems like you have the Mona Lisa where you work just for a few hours 😉

  • you literally wrote out a fairly tale above and then ensured it through these photographs. How incredible it must have been to shoot these beauties! x

  • Love, love, love your work! But I find the posture in some of the pictures so disturbing. Misguided, troubling.

    • Martin King

      If we never strayed far from what we thought might be Coco’s approval, Chanel wouldn’t be the powerhouse in fashion it is today. Fashion and art must always look to push the envelope.

    • Point taken. But then go for it! Create really dynamic poses that enhance the woman and the clothes. Don’t almost deform healthy bodies.

  • stacy

    I love everything about this Jamie! The model, the make up, the hair, the clothes, the background…is that a cloth background? It all belongs together so well. Gorgeous. I would totally put one of those pictures in a frame and hang it above my desk at home! Love it all!

  • Verena

    This is so far beyond a blog post it should be in a magazine.

  • Loved reading about haute couture and it’s history, and loved even more these photographs of the pieces and the model! Congratulations on your first couture shoot Jamie, I can’t even imagine how exciting of an experience it must have been, but you’ve done justice to the stunning pieces and have captured them beautifully! <3

  • Fernanda Iglesias

    Love the Photographs!!!! They soooo reminded me of the paintings by Dante Gabriel Rossetti. They are breathtaking.

  • Kirsten Harris

    These photographs…I can’t decide if I want to see them in Vogue or in an art gallery…truly a beautiful combination of fashion and art.

  • Martin King

    What a Titian queen and what a perfect contrast she makes to these structured, detailed couture pieces. As always, Ms. Beck – great work.

  • Oh my word, talk about a dream come true…

  • Frida

    the model lis m’eh; the gowns are gorgeous

  • this is amazing