Hands up: Jean Melkonian

September 27, 2022

Jean Melkonian, Head of the Dior ready-to-wear Tailleur Atelier  

The Bar suit, the reshaping of an emblem  

In his hands, the suit opens up, or rather stands, both graphic and in motion. A Bar suit speaks for itself, as Maria Grazia Chiuri’s touch is deeply felt in the construction of this jacket, without chest darts or superfluous details. All built in one line, and without anything to hinder it. A line designed to live, free from the shackles, but true to the spirit of Dior. One that embraces movement, while keeping the back straight, without constricting it. “The shoulder is soft, slightly drooping. It follows the natural curve,” says Jean Melkonian, who masters his craft within his hands. It is an understatement to say that he grew up learning how to sew. Son of a seamstress, he knew, at the age of twelve, how to make a pair of pants from scratch. For this Armenian born in Beirut, arriving in France at the age of ten, fashion is more than an art, it is a way of life. His father used to travel to Bologna to find fabrics (he used to make children’s slippers), and his aunt was also a seamstress. This former employee of Yves Saint Laurent, trained by Monsieur Jean Pierre, learned his trade in leather and fur. Today, at the head of Dior’s Prêt-à-Porter Tailleur workshop comprising people, he works in perfect complicity with Maria Grazia Chiuri. “I distribute the studio’s sketches, we make the canvases, and then the patterns, before assignments are decided.  This results in upwards of 400 models per season (out of 1200 in total, including the flou, and in all materials) – a vertiginous number that reveals how the reshaping of an emblem can generate infinite variations. “Maria Grazia Chiuri tells me, ‘more Bar’, ‘less Bar’, we understand each other,” he says. All the expertise shows itself in the basques more or less unstuck, the size of the lapels, from one season to another. The famous Verga 1166 in wool and silk is one of the classics. “It has weight, its silhouette sits well.” In total, 12 to 20 pieces of fabric are needed to make a Bar jacket. “It’s all about the hips. Every season, there is a new element. Maria Grazia Chiuri keeps us going, every time.” Sometimes, Melkonian gets injured – a cut, for instance. “It’s the job that demands it. It runs through me.”

Courtesy of Jean Melkonian

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