Hands-Up: Annie D (Christian Dior Couture)

January 24, 2022
Courtesy: Laurence Benaïm

Small wonders with Annie D., première main at the atelier Flou, Dior

A range of pleated zephyr tulle covers the tabletop. “A small grey, a champagne, a small pinkish beige…” notes Annie D, who touches, caresses, and removes all the “small threads.” Smallsmall – this is one of her favorite adjectives: small top, small straps rolled up in a “rat tail.” She sets, superimposes, doubles the closures, fixes the finishings. Seventeen years at Dior, preceded by ten years at Yves Saint Laurent with Madame Renée. The fabric responds to her in a whisper; it seems to be made of feathers, she re-coats it, caresses it again. “I have always admired the Flou. I like everything light, that’s all a dress should be for me. We have little irons. Everything is more delicate,” she says. “In Flou, you must give the impression that it’s not stitched, that everything stands on its own.” 

Maria Grazia Chiuri enjoys transparencies. Each stitch must remain unnoticed. While she is not superstitious, Annie will only sew the ribbon (featuring the passage number) once Madame Jacqueline, the First, (a former Saint Laurent herself) has approved the model. On her right, her apprentice, Emma, is sewing a small organza top, which appears lighter than a handkerchief. She leads her gently, pointing out that “when she stitches her collar, she must not damage the feathers. It is so fragile.” 

Over time, small things have changed. “We stitch the resource at two centimeters, which is faster. But the job remains the same. We sew threads, we work with our hands. We make the dress, and we redo it perfectly. It is our child from head to toe.” Annie’s father was an electrician, her mother a housewife. She started at nineteen. On her finger, she keeps her thimble, the same one she’s had for 15 years.  Of course, she still has her scissors. “I do not like to lend them out,” she muses. She will watch the show live from the Gaumont Champs Elysées surrounded by the whole atelier. “The clothes are already wrapped,” she reveals. These remaining pieces are for upcoming orders while atelier awaits the big move planned for spring – from rue Jean Goujon to 30 rue Montaigne. Or, as she calls it, “The homecoming.”

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