More than 300 feather workers flourished in Paris in 1900. By 1960, there were but 50. Today, Lemarie is practically the only remaining one in France. In its desire to preserve this unique art and outstanding tradition, Chanel purchased this establishment in 1997. Founded in 1880, when there were no hats without feathers, by Andre Lemarie’s grandmother, Palmyre Coyette, the “studio of plumes-for-garments” reigned over decades as France’s top feather master . Working mostly for wholesalers and large department stores, the establishment made 50% of its earnings from its exports. After finishing his studies in 1946, Andre Lemarie joined his parents in the family business. He began to work for haute couture and its prestigious names: Christian Dior, Cristobal Balenciaga, Nina Ricci among others. Though egrets and birds of paradise are protected species today, the feathers of vultures, swans, peacocks or ostriches are imported without restriction from South Africa. Dyed, thinned, curled and even pounded, these lend themselves to every imaginable metamorphosis and whim of fashion. For Karl Lagerfeld, Monsieur Lemarie is above all the “father of the camelia”. It is he who, with the diversified dexterity of his artisans (indispensable in the manipulation of plumes and no less a meticulous workmanship needed for the flowers) can deliver the object of his desire. The camelia was first launched in the early sixties by Mademoiselle Chanel and has since disguised and reinvented itself in tweed, fur, satin, organdy, plastic and even cardboard. Whatever its skin, the Maison Lemarie fills the Chanel order of some 20,000 of these blossoms each year. Less well-known, is that the talent of the Maison Lemarie extends itself to a truly original atelier where smocking , inserts and ruffles in all their intricacies are created at the demand of houses of haute couture. Lemarie reigns in this field and his unique know-how is tapped by the top fashion names from Dior, Balmain, Lacroix, Valentino, Givenchy and Versace as well as Carolina Herrera, Bill Blass and Ralph Rucci in the United States.