PARIS, France — haute couture, fashion’s highest form of creative expression and the creative laboratory of a $2.4 trillion industry, is only made possible due to the skill and technical ability of a small group of international craftsmen and women living in Paris. Although named les petites mains (translated as "little hands", though in its usage the term connotes fairy-like levels of dexterity), despite the diminutive tone of the profession’s official appellation, its members are treated with great respect both within France and around the world.
“They maintain the tradition,” explained Christian Dior’s artistic director for womenswear Maria Grazia Chiuri exclusively to BoF, 24 hours before her latest show. Indeed, as the guardians of centuries-old craftsmanship who work across the tenures and aesthetics of multiple creative directors, charged each time with reinterpreting a brand's codes and closely guarded techniques, the skills of an atelier's les petites mains not only make the fantastical confections of haute couture tangible reality, they represent a couture maison's identity in its purest form.
Offering a rare glimpse into the human stories behind Paris's haute couture, BoF takes its readership into the Christian Dior atelier for the final, high-intensity 24 hours before its Autumn/Winter 2017 haute couture show.