Opulence ala Lesage Embroidery
One of the oldest forms of art in existence, extending almost 3000 years in history from monarchs + high society to the working class, embroidery still enthralls the mind with its intricate display of beauty. Like a marriage, it brings together the finest fabrics with the most exotic embellishments. Luxe, but not exaggerated. Embroidery is a story, one that is hand-stitched. And from all the names that have come to be with this type of art, one has survived to become the headmaster — Lesage.
Started in Paris in 1924, Albert + Marie-Louise Lesage bought the atelier of Albert Michonet, who had been a supplier to Napoleon III. And from this acquisition, the Lesage family began a close collaboration with the great fashion designers of the time: Paquin, Poiret, Redfern & Madeleine Vionnet. And at present time, Lesage continues powerfully with haute couture. Not quite a secret, the name is well-known in the business of fashion, but not really spoken about in the general public.
Today, the prestigious family talent has split as son + grandson, François & Jean-François, have continued Albert’s & Marie-Louise’s mission with their own endeavors. In 1949, at the age of 20, François Lesage took over the family business upon his father’s death. For over fifty years, he has mastered the blending of exemplary workmanship with the innovative needs of emerging couturiers such as Dior, Givenchy, Yves Saint Laurent, Scherrer, Christian Lacroix & Jean Paul Gaultier.
Jean-François along with a piece of his grandparents’ signature business moved to Madras, India in 1993, specializing in embroidery for interiors; adorning chairs, curtains, wall panels, bed covers + everything else that is interior design related. With a dedicated + passionate collaboration between his French team & 120 Madrassi master craftsmen, Jean-François expresses his vision through innumerable stitches and techniques that hand-embroidery offers on silk, linen, cotton, wool, velvet, leather, suede, etc.
As for François Lesage, he was bought by Chanel in 2002 to save the embroidery house from extinction, but has remained the preferred supplier of embroideries to all the fashion rulers. For Karl Lagerfeld, he is an indispensable and irreplaceable partner.
For each haute couture collection, François Lesage and his team generate about 100 new samples, added to the 40,000 samples archive created since 1958. This is the largest collection of fashion embroidery in the world. The Maison Lesage is also endowed with an inventory of over 60 tons of supplies among which include iridescent crystal, cabochons, rhinestones & glass beads from the roaring twenties. In 1992, he opened Ecole Lesage in Paris to teach the art of embroidery.
Recently fashion + class & jet lag visited the atelier of Jean-François in Paris, which is still entirely owned by Jean-François himself. Given an introduction + tour of the artistic space, an air of history lingered deeply. Thumbing through their work samples, it was an experience to behold- richness in colors, the meticulous stitching of time & creativity… Afterward I walked across Pont du Carrousel + the Seine River, heading toward the Louvre Museum. Carrying a black Jean-François shopping bag, I was holding a piece of Lesage embroidery on a pillow. A momento. More than just a piece of the past, it’s a name of sophistication.
(pictures via fashion + class & jet lag. ask for permission for any reproduction)