This is an enterprise just how I like one: with a long family history of passion and know-how that fuels the production of beautiful products.
West-Coast France, direction La Vendée … I’m here at Fontenay le Comte to the visit the workshop Dandurand et fils, a producer of headgear and beautiful caps since 1834 !
A family business that goes back 5 generations:
Wilfried Guilment-Dandurand learned the ways of the trade from his mother ; he recommenced the family practice in 2006.
He values the family practice so much that he made a great effort to preserve it, despite the rather “hostile” economic environment.
Fashion week parade 2019 of the American Khite Brewster. Dandurand hat.
Wilfried put his sister, Agathe, in charge of the Dandurand site; he bussies himself with the development of a group of artisans and artist worships called le Groupe Partson (Dandurand and Marie Pirsch).
A taste for beauty; perfection runs in the DNA of this enterprise.
This chapellerie’s fixation on the quality of their products evokes memories of their long family history: “one finds luxury in the smallest detail, even in the packaging cartons (“le luxe se trouve dans le moindre détail, y compris dans les cartons d’emballage”). Evidently, each employee seems to have inherited the family anxiousness for perfection.
It’s not surprising that the enterprise has quickly attracted and fostered the loyalty of the most prestigious maisons de luxe.
La maison Dandurand works mostly for their prestigious and demanding clients, but the chapellerie has developed its own line, « Torpedo,” in which they produce limited collections…
A short tour of the workshop to get closer to these beautiful caps and perhaps discover some secrets...
• The visit starts at the office of development
It’s here where the requests from the biggest brand names are received, next they are transmitted to a designer who carries out the request of the patron. Formerly, the patronage was also carried out on the cartons, but today this step is automated.
Thanks to the chapellerie’s long tradition and brilliant know-how, it can respond to the request of any patron; some are quite iconoclastic…. The milliner draws inspiration from either an old cap of from the sketch of a stylist. Generally, prestigious patrons source the materials themselves (wool, lamb hair or sometimes rarer materials for show: python, crocodile, ostrich!)
The pieces of cut cloth are placed in containers; some pass through an embroidery step, in which they’re marked by means of heat, before being assembled.
• The Assembly
On average, there are around twenty different pieces per hat!
These pieces are worked on by expert artisans (sometimes just a little seem is worked on), of which all are fastidious!
- The creation of the calotte,
- The secret : « Le bichonage » Hand titivation of the calotte, on wooden molds, so that each stich be impeccably placed,
- Assembly of the borders,
- Assembly of support pegs
- Putting in place of the visor,
- Couture de la Marque (Brand Sewing),
- Final mounting,
- Verification of sufficient quality.
The headgear delicately placed on tissue paper is prepared to be titivated one last time. The cap placed on gas-heated copper will be stretched to reach its full glamour…
The process is intricate; no folds can remain. The finished product must be perfect!
It takes AN HOUR to make a « classic » cap and even longer to create customized pieces !
Next, the cap is ready for the workshop!
Delicately wrapped up, the hat will one day be transported from the workshop to Paris and her maisons de haute couture, to a big-name store, or to the wardrobe of a wealthy client.
- The enterprise’s production of suburb caps and headgear!
- My amusing visit with the passionate artisans behind the production of the caps.
The brilliant idea of Wilfried Guilment-Dandurand to create le groupe Partson, which brings together exceptionally talented workshops centered around « Made in France » Fashion … and which will give me the opportunity to discover other beautiful Houses, like that of Marie Pirsch !