ParknCube_How-Chanel-bags-are-made_001

photography SHINI PARK
In a way, the world begins at 18, non?

Eighteen. A number not commonly spotted in the usual roster of suspects, nor accompanied by some far-fetched superstition that leads 4’s to be scratched off elevators and 13’s to haunt perfectly innocent Fridays; it is perfectly harmless, almost mundane. Little do we realise that 18 is, in fact, a glorious number. A not round but so-very-round figure that bottles in just enough experience, evolution and ‘manhood’ for a product to be deemed ready for the world.

Be it in a gawky, all-arms-and-legs teenager or a dusty bottle of Bordeaux from your parents wedding, 18 of anything is a painstaking process of trial & error, handicraft and refinement. Even if Joe’s braces aren’t coming off until next Springtime. Chanel is a master of said 18, hours of which it takes (depending on material) for one handbag to be produced. Each is subject to meticulous care, from sketch to packaging – every step sanctioned by quality control – after which it is then ready to begin its story. Now multiply this by decades of finesse and perfection.

The skins are preserved in a temperature controlled chamber

ParknCube_How-Chanel-bags-are-made_002ParknCube_How-Chanel-bags-are-made_003ParknCube_How-Chanel-bags-are-made_004

Each is subject to meticulous care, from sketch to packaging – every step sanctioned by quality control – after which it is then ready to begin its story.

A range of hand-made mock-ups are produced before selecting a final prototype nased on proportions and stitching details.

ParknCube_How-Chanel-bags-are-made_006ParknCube_How-Chanel-bags-are-made_007ParknCube_How-Chanel-bags-are-made_005

ParknCube_How-Chanel-bags-are-made_008

I’m not going to lie, when I climbed in that van outside Hotel Costes I promised myself to Jason Bourne the crap out of the ride, ready to count the minutes between each turn and memorize particular kinks in the road. Just to be able to be privy to – if not trace back for personal pleasure and some light stalking of – one of fashion’s best-kept secrets: the address to the Chanel handbag factory. Alas, my carb-y lunch had been filling, washed down with a glass of white wine, and by the fourth junction out of La Défense, I was out like a decommissioned traffic light. I might as well have had a dust-bag over my head.

We arose to the sound of soft crackle of gravel as the van pulled into the entrance to a handsome building covered in matte-black tiles that resembled the iconic Chanel quilting. The interiors airy corridors in calming tones bouncing off diffused natural light. Workers and craftsmen weaved past us, practically gliding, talking in gentle tones no louder than the soft, diligent whirring of the machines. A cart with a small stack of lemon-yellow leather hide wheeled by – perhaps a limited-edition 11.12 in its infancy – as I made a bee-line to the table where the quilting was being stitched. Room after another, I dashed, mid-sentence – to a corner where the logo hardware was being set, to the station where seams were being hammered… At one point I’m certain I caught my poor guide glancing at a spool of bag chain, no doubt contemplating a makeshift leash.

The iconic 2.55 throughout the ages

ParknCube_How-Chanel-bags-are-made_026ParknCube_How-Chanel-bags-are-made_025ParknCube_How-Chanel-bags-are-made_028

Don’t spend time beating on a wall, hoping to transform it into a door.
Coco Chanel

Not one bag is the same, multiply that by six collections produced each year under Karl’s boundless design direction, then add a challenge of technical variation for each. Heck, throw a differentiation equation in there for good measure, and that should adequately sum up the level of expertise exercised in the factory. The same building houses also nearly 3,000 bags in archive, forming a rich library of inspiration for designers and craftsmen but also a thick resume of Coco Chanel-class problem-solving skills. “Don’t spend time beating on a wall, hoping to transform it into a door.” The factory certainly was all doors, all solutions.

ParknCube_How-Chanel-bags-are-made_027ParknCube_How-Chanel-bags-are-made_014

ParknCube_How-Chanel-bags-are-made_029

Many thanks to Chanel UK for the rare peek behind the scenes.


How a Chanel 2.55 is made
photography courtesy of CHANEL
ParknCube_How-Chanel-bags-are-made_017

The aged calfskin is quilted by needlework according to a lozenge “diamond” pattern.

ParknCube_How-Chanel-bags-are-made_018

A template is placed onto the leather and cuts the different components, which are then individually lined with thin foam.

ParknCube_How-Chanel-bags-are-made_019

The emblematic double C is sewn onto the leather, appearing underneath the flap inside the bag.

ParknCube_How-Chanel-bags-are-made_020

The two bags are placed one within the other to create a single bag and then assembled; this is the “bag in the bag” technique.

ParknCube_How-Chanel-bags-are-made_021

Eyelets are inserted on the bag for a chain made of flat links in metal known as the “jewellery chain”. A rectangular turn-lock clasp, called the “Mademoiselle lock”, is positioned.

ParknCube_How-Chanel-bags-are-made_022

ParknCube_How-Chanel-bags-are-made_023

The bag is complete and the finishing touches are checked before it is packed and sent to the CHANEL boutiques.


ParknCube_How-Chanel-bags-are-made_015

Sweater – Charlie May. Trousers – Rodebjer. Choker – By Boe (similar). Necklace – Louis Vuitton. Bag – Coach ‘Swagger 27′

Park-and-Cube_Coach-Holiday_001

#givecoachorelse

Coach holiday campaign #GiveCoachorElse

It’s that time of year again, when you’ve just done dusting Halloween sweets off your chin and immediately a school of reindeers materialize above you, harnessed by a string of fairy lights, attached to a (glittery, it has to be glittery) sleigh of some sort. You yell ‘STAHhhP’ and try to protest, but you can’t deny that the days are shorter, colder and that toffee nut latte is exactly the thing you need to replenish the calories lost shivering in your ill-heated office. You feel bad and dust the top with a bit of your husband’s banana-tasting protein powder, for which you later get yelled at for spilling all over his gym bag.

Yep, even I – the self-proclaimed Cynic – have taken to mentally dividing shops into gift categories (i.e bag of sweet potatoes at Tesco’s = Husband) and threatening for certain gifts – quite like the cheeky new Coach #GiveCoachorElse holiday campaign, where the Coach girl gets exactly what she asked for. I’m excited to share with my readers here first. See, it’s my kind of campaign, because 1) I, the cynic, have always wanted to punch Santa and 2) one really should be clearer about what they want unless they wanted a drugstore hairbrush for the holidays. This bag, husband, this bag. And vouchers for Five Guys.

In collaboration with Coach as the season’s digital ambassador.

Disney characters strung up on a massive dead fir is definitely my kind of Christmas tree
London St Pancras station
Leather shearling trench- Coach. Bag – Coach ‘Swagger 27′

Park-and-Cube_Coach-Holiday_003Park-and-Cube_Coach-Holiday_002

Park-and-Cube_Coach-Holiday_004Park-and-Cube_Coach-Holiday_005

Leather shearling trench- Coach. Trousers – Simon’s own. Brogues – Chanel. Bag – Coach ‘Swagger 27′. Luggage – Globe Trotter. Sweater – Coach.

Park-and-Cube_Coach-Holiday_006

Work,
breathe,
play.
Repeat.

If you too, growing up, lived under a hand-painted sign that read Work Hard, Play Hard (possibly pinned near a stack of extra-curricular maths problems and a ragged vocabulary pad, contents of which has magically wiped out over the ensuing years after high school graduation and replaced by ‘bae’ or ‘fleek’) then come in for a hug. I feel you. To be fair, for my mother it was more of an ‘advice’, a friendly guidance, what have you, to self-assess whether I have earned the right for that evening at the bowling club at age 15 and accidentally letting eleven missed calls from the house phone happen. That’s when you shit your pants a little and accept the fact that you will forever suck at doing your own taxes, even as an adult. Because the truth is, that equation doesn’t actually cancel out, not to a tiger mum, to whom Play should be with purpose, like a Sims activity that has a blue progress bar on top of your head, like chess (+1 Logic Skill!).

I had started this blog as an escape from my university work load, working hard on my assignments (albeit all last minute), and playing hard on this blog. For years I’d kept it separate, used an alias that helped distinguish ‘real life’ business with ‘blog’ business, and piped on about having no ads. Then from a certain point it became apparent that more and more emails were being addressed to ‘Shini’, and I was being compensated for my efforts. There was undeniably a blue progress bar above my head, and it was filling up. My point is, when you apply enough ‘Hard’ to the equation, Work becomes Play, and vice versa – all you have to remember is to breathe in the middle, because sometimes it does get tricky.

Someday, perhaps I too can become Mayor of Pleasantview and go to work in a helicopter if I continued to play hard.

Created for
Minions, and I dunno, Aladdin.
Brogues – Chanel. Journal & Journal coverShinola. Necklace – JetSet Candy. Lip Balm – Creme de la Mer.

Park-and-Cube_things-of-the-month_NOV15_0001

I like assorting DESK ESSENTIALS (like this Shinola journal cover) where I can see and access them easily. Sometimes I look up and realise I’m working within a setup that resembles an Instagram flat-lay and chortle at the ridiculousness of this to-the-core blogger lifestyle. I then proceed to organizing the pens and pencils in order of height and colour, and realise it’s perhaps a bigger problem.

Park-and-Cube_things-of-the-month_NOV15_0006

Park-and-Cube_things-of-the-month_NOV15_0002

Park-and-Cube_things-of-the-month_NOV15_0007
Park-and-Cube_things-of-the-month_NOV15_0003

As much as I pipe on about pizza and burritos, there’s nothing better to soothe a congested mind than to immerse into PHYSICAL ACTIVITY, or simply taking the time to listen to your own BREATHING. Again, I recommend the 30-day yoga challenge for those chickenshits like me, who can’t commit to a whole year of gym membership.

iPad holder – Shinola. Dermaclear clay mask - Dr Jart. Bracelets – X Jewellery.

Park-and-Cube_things-of-the-month_NOV15_0004
Park-and-Cube_things-of-the-month_NOV15_0008

I say ‘Play’ because most of this ends up down the front of my shirt and I end up smearing paint all over my chesticulars and smearing them on a sketchbook and/or canvas. There may also mysteriously be some Jessica Simpson playing in the background and soap bubbles floating around. PLAYTIME.
Animal Egg cup – Liberty. Leather Pouch & Sketchbook – Shinola. Bracelet – X Jewellery. Watch – Shinola.

Park-and-Cube_things-of-the-month_NOV15_0005

Park-and-Cube_things-of-the-month_NOV15_0009

Chanel métiers d’art paris-salzburg 14/15

Austria has always held a special place in my heart, not only for the reason that it’s the scene to my (undoubtably yours too) musical education (and knowing that doe is a female deer before learning what a deer is), but because it also happens to be where my family started our European abode back in 1989 before putting down our roots in Warsaw.

Coincidentally, it transpires that Chanel too has a vital link in Austria, more specifically, at the Mittersill hotel near Salzburg where Coco Chanel noticed the lift-boy’s uniform during her stay, a detail that later inspired the shape of the neat boxy shape of the now time-honoured classic, the Chanel tweed jacket.

The 11th Metiers d’Art collection showed at the lakeside Leopoldskron castle in Salzburg, back one frosty day back in December – blessed by the quirk and humour of Lagerfeld and a small army of expert hands from the label’s network of 11 artisan houses including Lesage, Desrues, Lamarie, Michel… et al. Technically, the collection boasts a level of meticulous craftsmanship that could be mistaken as couture, although in theory perhaps shy by one denim lederhosen and a nod towards dirndls.

So, it’s a huge pleasure to re-live Austria, albeit only through photos and found paintings, accompanied by shoes and accessories from the Chanel Metiers d’Art Paris-Salzburg 14/15 collection. Here’s a playful rendition that include some of my own childhood memories.

In collaboation with Chanel. Photography: Shini Park & Brian Leavy. Assistance: Simon Schmidt
Art Direction & Graphic Design: Shini Park
Cable car and skis enamel brooch Chanel
Patent side lace-up boots Chanel

Park-and-Cube_Chanel_Salzburg_09

Red alpaca tweed long coat, cashmere socks, grey felt ankle boots – Chanel. Skirt – my own.
Felt messenger bag with flowers and pins Chanel
Plexiglass bracelet, silk faille blouse Chanel
“She took an element and made it hers”
- Karl Lagerfeld on Coco Chanel taking inspiration in everyday details
Pretzel and beer enamel brooch Chanel
Patent clogs Chanel
Cream cashmere skirt with roses Chanel

View the Collection

Chanel métiers d’art paris-salzburg 14/15

Shown in Schloss Leopoldskron, Salzburg – an 18th century rococo castle, now a hotel but formerly private residence of the Prince Arch Bishop of Salzburg – the collection is an ultimate showcase for the Chanel workshops: primarily Lesage – the embroidery house, and Lemarie – the flower and feather specialists…

Discover more

clock

Felt ankle boots Chanel

Park-and-Cube_Chanel_Salzburg_07

Sweater – My own. Cashmere skirt & felt bag – Chanel
Felt ankle boots Chanel
Leather Girl Bag Chanel
Wool felt loafers Chanel

Park-and-Cube_Chanel_Salzburg_10

The devil is in the details – best demonstrated in the accessories and shoes.
Various resin chain brooches and charm necklace Chanel

Park-and-Cube_Chanel_Salzburg_11

The Chanel Metiers d’Art collection is now in select boutiques globally.

Park-n-Cube_Conrad-Maldives_Part2_001

Park-n-Cube_Conrad-Maldives_Part2_002

Scarf – Nazanin Rose Matin

Park-n-Cube_Conrad-Maldives_Part2_003 Park-n-Cube_Conrad-Maldives_Part2_004

CoNrad maldives
Pt 2.
Rangali Island, maldives | www.hilton.com | Part 1

It’s difficult to write an account of an experience in the Maldives without an introductory flailing of the arms and a bit of gurgling, followed by something that’s spelt a little bit like this. It’s all very professional, really. In fact, the world should celebrate that I’m not on Youtube because it all looks and sounds like Tom Hanks in Cast Away with a bit of spirit fingers sprinkled in the mix. (I am on Snapchat however, making the same noises at brownies and puppies on Broadway Market: Sparkncube) Even re-living the Maldives through these photos puts me on a high.

As mentioned in Part 1, the main attraction at Conrad Maldives – once you’ve gotten over (warning: this may take forever) the milky-white beach, azure skies and the most translucent water since bottled Fiji – is the sense of privacy and isolation. I’d fully embraced this inside my Water villa (with thumping rap music on the first night), with a tinge of suspicion that perhaps it was to be expected given the nature of architecture, but was promptly proven otherwise as we moved into a Deluxe Beach villa two nights later. In theory, your neighbours are close by, but the minute the gates click shut, you feel like a homeowner. And it’s a big home – larger in fact, than most of my previous London flats, and I don’t recall ever having an outdoors bath-pavilion (unless you count the one where water leaked from the ceiling). So there, yet another reason to move to the Indian Ocean.

Park-n-Cube_Conrad-Maldives_Part2_005

Lingerie – Triangl. Serum – Estee Lauder. Sandals – Pour la Victoire. Watch – Daniel Wellington. Sunnies – Westweard Leaning

Park-n-Cube_Conrad-Maldives_Part2_006

Park-n-Cube_Conrad-Maldives_Part2_007Park-n-Cube_Conrad-Maldives_Part2_008

Park-n-Cube_Conrad-Maldives_Part2_009

Romper – ASOS. Necklace – EFFRA

Park-n-Cube_Conrad-Maldives_Part2_010Park-n-Cube_Conrad-Maldives_Part2_011

Park-n-Cube_Conrad-Maldives_Part2_012

Speaking of reasons to move, add these too – ten restaurants where one is 5m (16 ft) under water, and another inside a wine cellar; an extensive list of DVDs and snacks that can be ordered through room service for rainy afternoons after lunch; and a spa that is set on stilts with glass floors so that you can drift off counting the stripes of a family of clownfish (“three”) while your back gets some much-needed TLC. So yes, I would jump ship and go Tom Hanks for/at Conrad Maldives any day, as long as Wilson can pour me some bubbly at pink sunset, I’d be happily cast away for ever.

Park & Cube was a guest of Conrad Maldives, all views and opinions are my own. Shots of me with the help of Mr Tripod.

Park-n-Cube_Conrad-Maldives_Part2_013

Caudalie Beauty Elixir. Sabon Body Lotion. Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair Cream. Skyn Eye cooling gel. Kiehls Avocado Eye cream. Pai Avocado & Jojoba Day cream

Park-n-Cube_Conrad-Maldives_Part2_014Park-n-Cube_Conrad-Maldives_Part2_015

Park-n-Cube_Conrad-Maldives_Part2_016

Watch – Daniel Wellington. Ring – Elizabeth & James

Park-n-Cube_Conrad-Maldives_Part2_017

Park-n-Cube_Conrad-Maldives_Part2_018

Park-n-Cube_Conrad-Maldives_Part2_019

Park-n-Cube_Conrad-Maldives_Part2_020Park-n-Cube_Conrad-Maldives_Part2_021

The over-water spa

Park-n-Cube_Conrad-Maldives_Part2_022

Park-n-Cube_Conrad-Maldives_Part2_023

Park-n-Cube_Conrad-Maldives_Part2_024Park-n-Cube_Conrad-Maldives_Part2_025

Park-n-Cube_Conrad-Maldives_Part2_026

Park-n-Cube_Conrad-Maldives_Part2_027