When the Chanel Paris Haute Couture Spring/Summer 2008 fashion show needed a little dressing up, Karl Lagerfeld inspired an idea to decorate the Grand Palais with a very grand Chanel jacket. This idea was realized by Atelier Devineau, who created the 60'-high, 50'-wide garment, but it required an immense structure to support its form. It was up to project managers from events company Villa Eugénie (www.villaeugenie.com) to find the fabricator to do it.
Enter Hans Willems, who started WI Creations (wicreations.com) about two years ago to specialize in special construction for entertainment and events. Willems and his team provided engineering and construction services, creating a structure comprising WI-towers and other custom pieces. “To make this reality, we had to build our own tower system,” says Willems. The towers were steel and the trussing made of aluminum.
The garment itself — more set piece than jacket, really — was actually a wooden skeletal frame covered with polystyrene foam and painted. “We needed to lift 10 tons total on two freestanding towers of 59' each,” Willems says about assembling the structure. During this process, a Kinesys K2 automation control system controlled four 2½-ton Liftket electric hoists to lift and maneuver the jacket and its supporting towers.
The debut of this mammoth piece of fashion actually took place off the runway on a huge turntable and — like any haute couture at the end of its runway sashay — completed one full revolution during the course of the show.