“We are playing our part in the kingdom of the imagination. Embroidery can be a woman’s dream become reality.” -François Lesage.
Last year, I got yet another amazing opportunity to get a behind the scenes look at what goes behind the creation of beautiful French fashion. I got to visit the famous Lesage, which was once a small workshop, and now a booming multinational business specialising in hand-made embroidery mainly used for Haute Couture.
What is Lesage?
Lesage is a popular embroidery workshop that opened up in 1924 by owner François Lesage and his family. They created beautiful handcrafted stitching for popular theatre plays and costume design throughout Paris. He started to also venture into fashion during the world war 2, for famous French designers such as Madeleine Vionet and Famous knitwear designer Elsa Schiaparelli. After that, he partnered with several couture houses offering his workshop and expanding it to create one of a kind pieces and fabrics through artful embroidery. They continued to innovate in the art of embroidery and uphold age old traditions of embroidery skills and styles to create new creations.
Haute Couture Today
Before a major shift in industrialisation in fashion moving to factory produced textiles and goods, this was how everyone “went shopping” for clothes. It was an experience that took time, dedication and was quite personal. You went to the maison or house of the brand, selected the piece you desired and then had it made to fit just for you. This was the trade. It took hours of hand crafted skill and excellence to make one item!
Recently, Chanel opened up about Lesage on BOF, in a preview for a behind the scenes look abou what goes into making those finer and grandiose details in couture fashion. Here is the video:
My experience at Lesage
I got to see some amazing samples taken from famous designer gowns and pieces from their many archives. There are thousands of samples dating back to previous runways:
Their basement is filled with hundreds of thousands of, beads buttons, tassles, ropes and cords of different kinds
The Ecole Lesage is a school where designers and seamstresses can be taught how to sew using various trademark skills to create those beautiful illusions in their work.
On my return to Paris to the Ecole Lesage, I got to experience some sewing and was guided by a master seamstress. Now, I was always rubbish at needlework in primary school and rather preferred to do art. I had my sewing pulled out a few times to restart for the mess I would make in this activity. However, it was a lot of fun, but it’s something that definitely requires high attention to detail and impeccable skill. I will upload my finished work later.