What makes French haute couture is the extraordinary embroideries of Lesage, a Paris company that the fashion connoisseurs consider to be the premier embroiderers.

  • Maison lesage was founded in 1924 when albert and Marie-Louise Lesage purchased the Michonet embroidery atelier. Michonet was founded during the Second Empire as the embroiderer to Paris’ fashion elite, Charles Frederick Worth (the founder of haute couture), Napoleon III and Empress Eugenie. Albert and Marie-louise created avant-garde embroidery designs that attracted the likes of designers such as Madeleine Vionnet, Elsa Schiaparelli, Cristobal Balenciaga and Christian dior. Their son, François lesage took over the business from his father albert in 1949.

  • Lesage has always been synonymous with the highest quality of embroidery. But the secret of the creative longevity of Maison Lesage was to embrace the new, as well as establishing profound relationships with designers. François continued his family’s work, designing new embroideries and pushing the boundaries just as his father had worked with Schiaparelli. François forged close relationships with designers, learning to interpret their sometimes vague requests by capturing their high imagination and outlandish fantasies. Each work requires hundreds, sometimes thousands of hours of precision beadwork to create.

  • François lesage had always worried about the decreasing numbers of these artisans, known as “petites mains”, and so sought to set up his embroidery school Ecole lesage. Ecole lesage is a workshop where tulle is still stretched over wood frames, where students are taught the couture techniques and its tradition, from embroidery to flower, button and hat-making, with every stitch and every bead or sequin done by hand. the school, which is located in Paris, offers classes for embroiderers of any level, from beginners to those wishing to study to become a master of haute couture embroidery.

  • The house of Chanel, which bought Maison Lesage in 2002, secured its future. While Chanel’s investment has created stability for Lesage, Chanel does not intend to monopolize the ateliers for their own use. In fact, they encourage them to develop relationships with other designers in order to strengthen their long-term profitability. The lesage embroidery’s archive room, with its over seventy thousand samples from 1868 to the present day, is “the largest embroidery museum in the world”, explains the directrice Murielle Lemoine. Murielle has held the keys to Maison lesage’s treasures for almost 30 years and is the first point of contact for designers as they begin work on a collection with Lesage.

  • Hubert Barrere, the artistic director of Maison lesage since 2011, continues to develop relationships with designers in order to promote the artistry of embroidery. he is responsible for all the fashion world’s exceptional embroidery, continuing the legacy of François lesage, who passed away in december 2011.

Narcisse Magazine - Issue 7