Tweed Inspiration

By Jo Phillips

When asking a random stranger to name a fashion house most people in the world would probably say, Chanel. It is still held in such high regard by so many and has continued over its years in business to stay firmly at the top. Know for its, No5 perfume its double C logo and tweed suiting that has over the years been a staple, recognisable in a flash, something like a flag of the brand. Yet there is still with this renowned brand, something that many don’t know about. A subject that is in fact explored in its latest beauty launch. To find out a little more here on a lesser-known side of the company that it holds at its very core and is key to its DNA. Public yet private the house is still family-owned and makes all its own products and knows exactly how to hold its heritage and delight its customers. Find out more in Tweed Inspiration Here. Main Image Chanel Haute Definition Fauve Palette

Coco (Gabrielle) Chanel started her namesake brand in 1910, inspired to give women an easier way to dress, to liberate them, she got rid of the corseted, and the straight-laced fashion of the time and introduced the idea of elegant ease. In a time when sports lux is everywhere, this may not seem so dynamic but at the time it was groundbreaking.

Inspired by her lover Boy Capel (Captain Arthur Edward Capel) she took from his men’s clothing items like wide trousers and tweed jackets and bought them into a women’s wardrobe. The tweed although over time has flourished and evolved, (Chanel added silk to the weave to soften the fabric and make it more feminine) is still a mainstay of the Brand, as recognisable as a Mini car, the Houses of Parliament or Marylin Monroe, so epic is its place in history.

Image Credit Chanel FA/W 2022/23 Haute Couture Collection, look eight

In the world of fashion, creating something that lasts over a season is considered amazing, but no one ever considered that the Chanel Tweed would last well past the life span of the original creator. Chanel’s first tweed suiting came out in 1925, setting the groundwork for what we have now come to instantly recognize.

The house tweeds for Chanel are made by Lesage who are in fact part of a protected company, a group within Chanel known from 1997, as the Paraffection subsidiary (roughly translates to ‘for the love of’) and Chanel Métiers d’Art (artistic careers). It began with the acquisition of button maker Desrues in 1985 and was followed by Lemarie and milliners Maison Michel in the 1990s with Scottish cashmere Barrie Knitwear atelier in 2012.

Chanel Lesage

France has always been the very epicentre of the niche vital ateliers that are the very lifeblood of all facets of the fashion industry. But with added machinery and our social needs changing (A lady no longer needs to wear gloves daily) means a true decline in the demand for such crafts.

Meaning some are threatened with an uncertain future. Yet these skills are needed by a huge amount of fashion houses who require this level of skill as well as the fact that many of these companies have been around for hundreds of years. As well as the fact that some historically had also worked with Mademoiselle Chanel herself.

Not so much as going out of business but more to do with the interest of keeping these traditions and craftsmanship alive for key houses to use, Chanel, stepped in.

It was Karl Lagerfeld who first had to idea to recuse these ateliers, often known in France as called ‘Les Petites Mains’ (the little hands) and so Chanel began to buy up these tiny companies in order to aid their survival in the modern world. The idea was also to allow each subsidiary of this new arm of the company to still work as independent companies within an umbrella division, which allows each house to have other customers alongside Chanel.

Image Chanel 2021/22 Métiers d’art collection

Chanel Métiers d’Art is not so much a secret but more of an insider story. One of great love and respect for the true craft of fashion, in its highest form. For Chanel, the annual Métiers D’art catwalk show is a way to promote its heritage, its craftsmanship and highlight the work of its artisanal partners. Artistic Director of Chanel’s Fashion collections Virginie Viard is very much in charge of this umbrella organisation as she was the one, even in the days of Karl, that would directly work with them on items for the collections

Think of that signature button on a Chanel jacket, they are created by Maison Desrues. Goldsmiths Goossens, (working with Gabrielle Chanel from 1953) is the company behind the costume jewellery she was so renowned for wearing and making fashionable. The shoemaker Massaro, in 1957, created the two-tone shoe so synonymous with Chanel, with the black toe to shorten the foot and the beige to elongate the leg. Also in the group find the milliner Maison Michel, pleater Lognon and specialist embroiderer and silk work done by Montex, feather workers Lemaire, so think of the camellia with its 16-petal design is widely recognized as the floral symbol of the Chanel house, And let’s not forget glovemaker Causse, think of the fingerless leather gloves Karl always wore and Scottish cashmere specialist Barrie Knitwear, and finally the House of Lesage, the wool and embroidery company.

Chanel 2021-22 Metiersnd’Art Collection look 52

The Lesage company is in charge of those majestic tweeds that have long played a key role in Chanel, making many of the myriad variations of Chanel’s signature Boucle tweeds( loosely woven fabric made with looped, curly yarns, a rich, multidimensional texture) for both clothing and accessories. Lesage has created opulent embroidery since its creation in 1924.

In 1924, the Lesage family took over an embroidery studio called Michonet which at the time supplied to such fashion luminaries as Madeleine Vionnet, Charles Frederic Worth, (the first fashion designer to sew branded labels into his clothing) and Jeanne Paquin and Elsa Schiaparelli.  During the 1950s, the reins passed to their son François Lesage aged a mear 20 years, and so the studio went on to create embroidery for the next set of fashion heroes including Pierre Balmain, Cristobal Balenciaga, Christian Dior, Hubert de Givenchy, Yves Saint Laurent and Christian Lacroix. 

In 1996, led by a desire to diversify the activities of the House, François Lesage established a textile atelier. Two years later, he started proposing tweeds to Chanel Ready-to-Wear collections, and from 2008, the House has been inventing new tweeds for the Haute Couture. Maison Lesage joined the Chanel Métiers d’art in 2002. 

Rich with 75,000 embroidery samples, the creative legacy of Lesage today represents the largest collection of couture embroidery in the world, as well as having a school to teach a new generation of makers in these crafts.

Chanel 2021-22 Metiers d’Art Collection Look 18

Heritage, as we know, is not just essential in the world of luxury but it is a building block, a reference point, as well as a stepping stone to the future. After all, how can you have a future without a past?

And it is this part of the house of Legere, its infamous tweed, its heritage and its future with the Chanel house that has become the celebration of a new collection for Chanel Beaute; this Tweed Inspiration.

The makeup studio at Chanel has drawn inspiration from this emblematic fabric with the essence of the tweed being reinterpreted into four limited-edition Les 4 Ombres eyeshadows palettes. First created in 1982, this eye quad has become a Chanel makeup staple set in its glossy boxed case it invites the sense of luxury so key to the company.

Chanel Les Ombres Tweed

Designed with a tweed pattern embossed on the surface of each shade, mimicking the very essence of the suiting, high praise indeed, that to see it is to know what the pattern means.

Coming in four-colour blendable harmonious sets reminiscent of the different fibres intertwined to form tweed, the shades can be blended, and their intensity varied. Each of the four’s tonal range softly suggests a personal colour palette. In celebration, the compacts are paired with tweed pouches crafted by Maison Lesage, with each of the four pouches reflecting the colour palette of the shadows inside.

TWEED Brun et Rose

The first harmony, entitled Tweed Brun et Rose, is composed of four brown and beige eyeshadows. The natural tones compliment and add definition to the eyes.

TWEED Cuivre

The second, Tweed Cuivré, makes eyes shine with golden shimmer. An elegant accord that evokes the richness and brilliance of the precious metals dear to Gabrielle Chanel.

TWEED Pourpre

Tweed Pourpre combines pinks and mauves to offer a satiny and iridescent make-up look. A harmony that oscillates between softness and audacity. Tweed Pourpre brings together pinks and mauves while offering a satin and iridescent finish.


The final creation, Tweed Fauve, is composed of radiant hues that bring warmth to the eyes. A combination of powerful colours between earth and fire, which combines a fiery brick orange with the depth of an intense aubergine brown, illuminated by the subtle shine of a satin coral and the reflections of amber gold.

Chanel Haute Definition Fauve Palette

To complement these colour harmonies, two new shades of Stylo Yeux waterproof have been created, Cuivre Doré, to illuminate the eyes, and the other, Bois Noir, for added intensity. As well as Le Volume De Chanel mascara in Noir to complete the full eye creation.

Heritage is the future, going back to go forward; preserving it makes for new ideas and new surprises that delight. Who would have thought in 1925 when Chanel created her first tweed suit for women that the influence would still be shaping and forming newness now?

The collection is now available exclusive to Harrods and

If you enjoyed reading Tweed Inspiration then why not try reading Fashion Connection

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