It all started 2001, when Amanda Sanchez got the call for a casting at Chanel. “They were looking for a girl to be the fit model for an haute couture collection. I went in and they hesitated a bit, because I had a different physique than they were used to,” says Brazilian-born, Paris-based Sanchez. After a few days, the iconic house offered her the position. “When I was introduced to Karl [Lagerfeld], one of the first things he said to me was that I had the right measurements.”
Fast-forward sixteen years and Sanchez’s body serves as the primary canvas for the eight collections that Chanel produces every year, from haute couture to ready-to-wear. “There’s no break, really, between a collection and the next. As soon as haute couture is finished, ready-to-wear has already started, and so on,” explains Sanchez.
“My job consists of having every piece of the collection fitted on me, from the moment Karl draws the first sketches to the runway show,” she continues. “Every day, I come into the studio where the different ateliers work on the garments. At the end of the day, we have a grand fitting with Karl, where he makes comments, alterations, or adjustments.”
Although fit models don’t usually walk down the runway, Amanda regularly does, and is quite fond of it. “A runway show is the result of many long months devoted to a collection,” she says. “Of course, it’s very flattering to walk for Chanel, but what I love most is being a team player from beginning to end. It’s a wonderful feeling being a part of every piece of the story.” With a unique partnership that’s surpassed many models, Sanchez has developed very close bonds with the house and its artistic director, Karl Lagerfeld. “He’s a very sweet person. We love working together; during the fittings, we discuss the clothes in the making…and sometimes our respective cats,” she says.
Despite the hectic schedule that comes with working on so many collections, the mother of one claims to live a perfectly normal life, thanks to the nature of her job and Chanel’s impeccable work ethic. “Even though I work for an important couture house, I don’t have to travel like the other models. I have a routine, and drop my son o to school every morning. Because Chanel is so well organized, we don’t have overly demanding schedules, and never have to pull an all-nighter before a runway show.”
Seeing firsthand the birth and final outcome of these creations is what drives Sanchez the most. “Every day I’m thankful for the chance to work in such an inspiring environment,” she raves. “I watch and learn from the greatest: the way Karl looks so carefully at the clothes, the type of button he chooses, or how the head seamstress interprets his sketches. I take it all in—even what the journalists and buyers have to say about the collections.”
Sanchez is an optimist who always sees the glass half-full. She wouldn’t give up her job for anything in the world, but does admit that it comes with a major drawback: higher standards. “It’s become very di cult over the years to buy anything other than Chanel, because I notice every flaw in the craftsmanship,” she says. “As soon as I put on a jacket, I know right away if it’s poorly cut, and why there are creases.”
It must indeed be really hard to shop anywhere else when you get used to wearing clothes that fit like a glove.
Story by Andréa Sirhan Daneau.