Master Craftsmen

  • Exclusive accessories ateliers Maison Michel and Goossens rarely open their doors to visitors and Joyce was honoured to be given the opportunity to tour their workshops on the outskirts of Paris. Here, we reveal how a hat and a piece of jewellery are still being made by highly adept craftsmen, using skills handed down over the generations.

    Maison Michel

    Hat maker Auguste Michel founded Maison Michel in 1936 and began making boaters, trilbies and fedoras for houses such as Chanel, Givenchy and Lanvin. In 1996, Chanel took over Maison Michel to preserve the heritage of hat making and revive the skills it relies upon while injecting a modern twist into classic designs. During Joyce’s visit, one of the firm’s most experienced hat makers demonstrated how to make Maison Michel’s signature Virginie felt wide-brimmed trilby. First the material is steamed, then stretched on a wooden block before the hat maker shapes the crown and the brim. Finally, it is left to dry in an oven. From start to finish, a beautifully hand-crafted hat was conjured up in front of the camera in a matter of minutes. The house now produces one-of-a-kind pieces for Chanel’s haute couture and métier d’arts collections, as well as its own eponymous prêt-à-porter collection.


    “It all began in the 1950s when my father Robert and Gabrielle (Coco) Chanel met,” explains Patrick Goossens, the son and heir of the Goossens atelier’s founder. “Together they invented ‘costume jewellery’, meaning a piece of jewellery designed with the clothes, depending on the colour of the fabric or the eyes of the model.” Aside from Chanel, Goossens has collaborated with many couturiers in the past, including Yves Saint Laurent and Cristóbal Balenciaga. Today the “Essentials” collection, featuring rock crystal, baroque pearls and hammered gold-plated bronze, epitomises the maison’s classic designs. Joyce captured how the metal is polished and tempered by hand. Around the workshop, hundreds of designs for different houses and its own collection are laid out. From a gold necklace in voluptuous human form to an elegant chain necklace with intricate peridots and amethysts, no design is beyond Goossens.

    Interview by Lucienne Leung-Davies
    Video by the Stimuleye
    Photos by Filep Motwary