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  • Writer's pictureSarah Palow

École Lesage

In the heart of Paris, 50 seamstresses are hunched over wooden frames feverishly stitching hundreds of tiny cut glass beads, sequins and rhinestones onto gossamer cloth. They are working at “The House of Lesage”, one of the world’s most prestigious embroidery ateliers. Founded in 1858, Lesage is responsible for some of the most iconic embroideries in fashion history. From Chanel’s iconic interlocking Cs to Dior’s delicate lily-of-the-valley motifs, Lesage’s embroideries are cherished by fashion houses and designers all over the world. Today, the atelier continues to create exquisite embroideries by hand, using techniques that have been passed down through generations of skilled artisans. It is a labour of love that results in truly unforgettable garments.

Quality and Luxury

From delicate beading to elaborate appliqués, the house of Lesage is synonymous with quality and luxury. In 2009 I moved to Paris to learn from the best, and Lesage was my first choice. I studied Professional Haute Couture Embroidery with the workers at Lesage, and I was able to gain an intimate understanding of the level of craftsmanship that goes into each and every piece. It was an unforgettable experience, and I'm grateful to have had the opportunity to learn from such talented artisans.

For my course, I had to work 150 hours in Lesage, and another 150 on my own. I learned all kinds of stitches and beadwork. First, I had to learn all the stitches on a sample piece of gossamer fabric such as this sample made from sequins beads, and ribbon.

Once I had accomplished this, I was able to start my main project. It ended up taking me about 400 hours to complete it using hundreds of beads, sequins and threads. Below are some pictures of my work at Lesage.

Paris is known for its fashion, and Lesage is one of the most prestigious embroidery houses in the city. Throughout history Lesage has worked with some of the biggest names in fashion, including Chanel, Dior, and Givenchy. The house is best known for its beadwork and sequin embroidery, a technique called Luneville (named after the town in France where it originated). On average, Lesage hand sews 100 million sequins and 150lbs of beads each year. The company's master craftsmen and women are true artists, able to create intricate designs that are as beautiful as they are durable. Lesage's embroideries are truly works of art, and they add a touch of luxury to any garment.

François Lesage

I was lucky enough to meet the last heir, François Lesage, during my stay in Paris. He would come and stand over me while I worked, watching as I stitched intricate designs onto delicate fabrics. It was very intimidating, but also a great honor to be able to meet such a talented and revered craftsman. Lesage is responsible for some of the most beautiful and iconic embroideries in the world, and it was fascinating to see firsthand how the atelier operates.

My Collections

Now that I am trained in Haute Couture Beadwork and Embroidery, I use these age-old techniques in my clothing and accessories. I love to create pieces with beadwork and embroidery that is usually only seen on the couture runways of Paris. My new collection L’Amour Fou shows examples of Luneville embroidery and Haute Couture techniques that you will only find from those trained in Paris. Check them out today!

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