The beautiful dresses described in the ladies' magazines of the early 19th century weren't for everybody. Then, as today, only the privileged could afford them. By far the greatest part of the price was the material—often adorned with exquisite embroidery, pearls, and even diamonds. Labor was very cheap.
This short excerpt, from a longer Chanel documentary that seems to have disappeared from YouTube, offers some insight into the level of craftsmanship involved in creating beautiful garments by hand.
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