If the name Lesage doesn’t get your heart beating, please leave now. This legendary house, started in 1924, when the embroiderer Michonet sold his house to Marie-Louise and Albert Lesage, is one of six remaining embroidery houses in Paris. The Metiers d’art, or craftsmen, are the ones responsible for the couture you see every season. The costume jewelers, feather workers, milliners, bookmakers, glove makers, fabric pleaters, and embroiderers are the ones who make the exquisite pieces you see on the couture runways (under the designers direction, of course).
Lesage is perhaps the most famous because of it’s work with Chanel. Yes, it is the house that embroiders Chanel. But Lesage has worked with many other legendary designers, Yves Saint Laurent and Elsa Schiaparelli being two (they still have samples from Elsa-all the way back to the 1930’s!)
They also work with new and emerging designers, Mary Katrantzou being the most notable. As a side note, I am obsessed with her, and was almost more excited to see a garden-print dress being embellished than a tweed being made.
Lesage has over 60 tons of materials, and only 60 employees. Everything is stored beautifully, right down to the color-coded thread in antique shelves. They also have an incredible archive- every time they make a sample it is put into their archive, so they have amassed quite the collection after almost 90 years.
One of the best parts was learning about how the designers collaborate with the craftspeople- designers will come and give the theme, and then the craftsperson will create samples based on the theme and what they think the designer is looking for. The designer will then pick their favorite, and a series of drawings and patterns and samples are made. Once the embroidery is complete, the pieces go back to their respective fashion houses and are assembled there. Pretty cool, right?
I’ll be honest, Armani is not really my thing. Yes, the clothes are beautiful, but they seem more suited to a women 20-30 years my senior. That being said, there were pieces I liked, the dusk prints and colors being one of them. The evening dresses are a little more my style than the suits, that is to say, if I had an occasion to wear those dresses to every night. I loved the beading, in particular on the headpieces, which were spectacular, in a nun-ish sort of way.
I know I might be hunted and burned at the stake for saying this, but I didn’t love Givenchy as much as I normally do. It seemed a bit heavy, though I guess that is appropriate for the winter in…the native americas? That’s what the fur and red coat would be perfect for, at least. Givenchy always seems so light, despite the pounds of beading I’m sure are on it, and even if the fabric is a darker color. This Givenchy seemed heavier, not as sort of sicily beautiful, though still gorgeous, of course. When one imagines the amount of houses spent stringing every last bead onto that ombre shirt, it’s a little dizzying. The sheer amount of work in inspiring and a little painful, but makes the clothes that much better, right?
JPG is never pretty, rather, it is always cool, edgy, and a little avant grade. Menswear is always an influence, and this season it was boxier but still fluid. The only couture show to show mens, the collection was full of black with a little more color in the middle, exotic skins, and other luxe materials like velvet and fur. There was some influence from the 20’s around the middle, complete with beading and fringe.
I must ask myself, though, why we need a dress covering every area of the body but the boobs? Why do we need just one piece with yellow fur, bring it on. Why do we need men in skirts and capes and sheer pants? Why turbans? Why no more corsets (apart from a few)? Why so much pouting from Lindsey and fierceness from Karlie? Why indeed.