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When Claire Shaeffer was told she could not visit and observe the Chanel couture workrooms, that just made her even more determined to learn about the techniques used at that house. So she began collecting Chanel - not just couture, but also ready-to-wear, and Chanel copyists and imitators. She has used her own collection to study the techniques that make Chanel couture special, what sets it apart from ready-to-wear and how to spot a fake Chanel.
Now she is sharing this hard-won knowledge with all of us. She has just released a CD book entitled Behind the Seams: Chanel. The 800 plus photographs on the CD show clearly the inner workings of a Chanel couture suit, and also Chanel Ready-to-wear. For each item in her collection, she shows multiple photos, sometimes several photos of the same detail. For example, she shows the hand embroidered buttonhole, and the bound buttonhole of the lining that faces it. You can enlarge the photos, and for most items she has interesting and informative commentary.
The CD is interactive and very easy to use. It's in the form of a pdf file so the user can adjust the size of the print and photos. It's beautifully produced and honestly, makes one want to start on a quest for their own Chanel stash!
Claire is known for her sewing books and for her sewing workshops, but this CD book is not just for those who sew. It's for anyone who has an interest in vintage couture and in what makes it special. It's for fashion historians and collectors, and yes, for sewers. It's even for those who don't want to be cheated by falling for Chanel fakes.
To see some pages from the CD and to purchase your own copy, visit the Shaeffer on Chanel blog by David Page Coffin, who worked with Claire on this project.