Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Handmade with Love in France (orig. Le Temps Suspendu) [2014]

MPAA (UR would be PG-13)  Fr. Dennis (4 Stars)

IMDb listing listing*
Official website (M. Renaud) review
The Hollywood Reporter (J. DeFore) review
TheMacGuffin (A. Blair) review

All About Work (F. McQuarrie) review
Concrete Playground (S. Trengrove) review (S. Adelman) review

Handmade with Love in France (orig. Le Temps Suspendu) [2014] (written and directed by Julie Georgia Bernard [IMDb] []*) is actually a quite fascinating documentary that played recently at the 2015 Chicago French Film Festival (July 31 - Aug 6, 2015) about the often very specialized artisans of Paris who've made / kept the city the center of haute couture (high fashion) in Europe for centuries.

And when I say "highly specialized artisans," I'm not kidding.  Among the artisans featured was Gérard Lognon whose Atelier Gérard Lognon [2]* was Paris' premiere "Pleating House" prior to his selling of his business to Chanel's Paraffection, S.A. a subsidiary created by Chanel with precisely the purpose of buying out these businesses before their owners / chief artisans die and their skills are thus lost forever.

Now what the heck is a PLEATING House??   The Atelier Gérard Lognon specialized in CREASING 3D patterns into previously 2D fabrics, which the fashion houses like Chanel or Christian Dior would then use to give often striking appearance and certainly novel texture to their subsequently unforgettable high-end dresses.  The value of this work becomes OBVIOUS when one sees it on the dresses paraded in the various high end fashion shows shown in the film, but honestly before seeing this documentary "I NEVER EVER would have known." ;-)

Then there's Lorenzo Re, whose atelier does nothing else than sculpt wooden forms for ... hats.  And there's Bruno Legeron whose 4th generation business is one of three remaining Paris shops devoted to _handmaking_ artificial flowers and feathers for dresses.  He tells the film-maker that "before the War" there were HUNDREDS, NOT DOZENS, BUT HUNDREDS of such shops devoted to nothing but making artificial flowers in Paris (and he has the directories to prove it).  And now there are three.

It's all fascinating to think about the next time one goes to Michael's (a "craft store" chain in the United States ;-) ).  But precisely a crafter would appreciate the skills of these people portrayed.

Well, what's happened, what's happening and what's the future?  A lot of these shops, often "kept in the family" for generations, have died for lack of interest / more options on the part of the youngest generation. Then, these shops often require very specialized skills / training that "doesn't come overnight." So "not just anybody" can do their kind of work.  Finally as mentioned above, Chanel has in recent years made it a priority to start buying these businesses out so that some of their people could be trained in the skills of these artisans before they are lost.  Yet, of course, these artisans have been used to "working on their own" / "being their own bosses."  Being subsumed by a subsidiary like Paraffection, S.A. of a "conglomerate" like Chanel is inevitably "an adjustment."  And a number of the artisans expressed concerns about what will be lost as a result of "industrialization" of their work.

A once again quite thought-provoking film about time, skills and change and "progress."

* Reasonably good (sense) translations of non-English webpages can be found by viewing them through Google's Chrome browser. 

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