Monday, July 6, 2009

A Look Under the Hood- Chanel

Yet another look inside someone else’s garment, but this time a real treat; instead of looking inside one garment we get a look at a whole bunch.

At the recent YSL exhibit the garments were, thankfully, not enclosed behind glass cases; I attracted more than my fair share of strange glances by lying flat on my back, trying to peer up the hems of dresses to see how things were finished inside and contorting myself around the garments to get a good look at details few would care about. In my most recent purchase I am saved the backache and the contortions; a new CD entitled Behind the Seams- The Schaeffer Collection, Volume One- Chanel does the work for me. Chanel has long been known for groundbreaking construction techniques and fanatical attention to detail; in this e-book we get a close up look at many of the techniques which made her famous.

CH Cover

David Page Coffin and Claire Schaeffer are both well known to hobbyist sewers and pros alike; this CD is a multimedia collaboration between the two. Claire is a well-known writer and teacher of couture sewing techniques who has visited ateliers and workshops around the world so it is not only through the historian’s or collector’s eye that we get to see these garments but from the perspective of a fellow sewing junkie. One can only imagine the amount of time and the vast sums it must have cost to accumulate such a collection so I am particularly grateful that she has chosen to share it with us. All photos and multimedia are by David, who I came to know a number of years ago when we collaborated on a few articles for Threads magazine, of which he was the editor, so I know the very high caliber of work to expect from any book he puts his name to. If five photos were finally used in an article, David would have shot over a hundred to make sure he had what he wanted, and this book certainly does not disappoint.

The book ships on an interactive CD and requires the free Adobe Reader. The content is intelligently and attractively presented and although some may prefer print versions, the fact that photos can be zoomed is a great benefit and I am finding that although I do enjoy physical books, I am beginning to appreciate the portability of electronic versions. I am about to go on vacation and as I carefully select which books I bring with me (bloody excess baggage charges) I am starting to wish more of my book were in electronic format- the Kindle is unfortunately not available in Canada yet :(

Full of great full-sized photos of the garments, it also looks at the individual construction details like these hand made buttonholes

CH Buttonhole

CH sleeve

And this hand set zipper

CH zipper

One warning- like me, you will be very tempted to run out and buy the biggest, best monitor on which to view these lovely images. I am stuck using PCs at work so I use them at home as well; on a hunch I brought the CD over to a friend’s house who has a sparkling new Mac 24” monitor, and do they ever sing. I am tempted to splurge just on the merit of the quality of image reproduction on this incredible monitor. But I digress.

Claire also looks at knock-offs, and how to spot counterfeits and misrepresentations which will be especially useful to other collectors. David includes information on how to use the book and navigate the interactive features which will be a huge benefit to those who may be new to this kind of format. Links to other web resources are also provided.

And on a similar subject, David will also be releasing a new multimedia book on making trousers soon.

With more looks inside a wide range of trousers this book is geared toward home sewers primarily, but like his Shirtmaking book, even pros will be able to find interesting things inside, like close-up glances at (and inside) these bespoke trousers from SR firm Gieves and Hawkes.

Gieves bh

Gieves pants

There is a DVD accompanying the book, which is to start shipping any day now; here’s a preview of the DVD

Introducing Making Trousers: The DVD from David Coffin on Vimeo.

In the interest of full disclosure, I am not receiving any kind of commission on sales of this or any other book or product- if I am choosing to plug it on this blog it is merely because I believe it is a wonderful resource.


Anonymous said...

iMac's monitor is not that great. If you have a PC(or a Mac without a monitor), you can get a very, very good monitor from the likes of Dell, Samsung, Viewsonic etc. Much better than the one bundled with the iMac.

Thank you for this post!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for letting us know about this. I have another CD book produced by David (Marcy Tilton's T-shirt book) and I was surprised at how user-friendly and helpful it was. I really like the format.

I am also so glad to hear that Claire Shaeffer has created a new book. She has so much knowledge about couture techniques and she explains them so well.

P.S. I'll be watching it on my 12" MacBook screen which I prefer to my 17" Dell. A 24" screen of any type must be awesome!

David Page Coffin said...

Oops; apparently those blue trousers are from Henry Poole, not G&H; there's another pair from G&H on the DVD.


Gorgeous Things said...

Thank you for a great review. I must go out an get the Chanel DVD. I have a Mac with a 20 inch monitor, so I can't wait to see the images!

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