September 26, 2017 by Chris Kilkus
Dior Milestone: The Inner Workings
PARIS — “Passion and patience, as well as the ability to focus and always seek out the best solution.”
Those are the key personality traits for aspiring “petites mains,” as the couture seamstresses are known, looking to join the haute couture atelier of Christian Dior, according to its chief seamstress, or “première,” Florence Chehet. Not to mention buckets of sang-froid, with last-minute dramas, like embroideries arriving on the morning of the show, a regular occupational hazard.
“Sometimes even I am amazed that we’ve managed to complete a collection in time, but somehow we always do; one has to wonder if there isn’t a little team of elves working through the night,” said Chehet, who boasts 36 years of experience working in the ateliers of various leading Parisian couture houses.
Dior’s atelier flou and tailoring workshop — each staffed by around 30 petites mains, — today are split between the fifth and sixth stories of the brand’s flagship at the corner of Rue François-I-er and Avenue Montaigne, having recently doubled in size. (The ready-to-wear atelier now occupies an entire building on the nearby Rue Jean-Goujon.)
The couture workshops are located on what is known as the “étages nobles,” a French term used for the most important floors