In the Studio with Chauncey
This month, the I Love Belgium team visited the atelier of Nathalie Bouhana, the woman behind the Belgian knitwear label Chauncey. The studio is located in her home, a majestic Art Nouveau house nestled in the busy streets of uptown Brussels. We immediately fell in love with the front door handle: a bronze female figure with wavy hair. What an inspiring and wonderful place this must be to work, we immediately thought.
Nathalie lead us up the stairs to her office, where she has been creating Chauncey knitwear-with-a-twist since 2010. Ever wonder where the name Chauncey originated? It comes from the cult film Being There, in which Peter Sellers plays the main character Chance or Chauncey.
Nathalie was originally an Egyptologist. When she was doing research for her thesis at the Musée de la Mode et du Textile in Paris––her thesis topic was Egyptian cotton––she met designer Christian Lacroix. After interning in his haute couture atelier, she started working full time for him. She has been working in fashion ever since, with stints as a knitwear designer for Hermès, Salvatore Ferragamo, Jean Paul Gaultier, and Dunhill.
Nathalie’s atelier has everything you would expect from a knitwear designer's workroom: bobbins of yarn, swatches of fabric, sketches of future sweaters. There’s something knitted everywhere you look: from a cutesy bear head that is actually a measuring tape to two gigantic cashmere pompoms used as props in a lookbook (we secretly wanted to take them home with us they were so soft). Nathalie also devours magazines, the paper and the online kind. (Yes, that includes the OC blog!)
On her mood boards, we notice a few familiar drawings from Chauncey collections. For Spring/Summer 2014, for instance, there's a colorful ice cream cone and even an egg sunny-side up popping up on your sweater! The drawings aren’t embroidered, but actually woven into the sweaters and cardigans. As Nathalie likes to put it, Chauncey's look is that of an elegant gentleman traveler––with a slice of Belgian surrealism.