Fri 19
Dec 2014

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Paris Umbrella Artisan Makes Showery Chic

Gold-rim-umbrella

I write about some pretty unusual talents on this blog, but couture umbrella maker just might be my rarest find yet. That’s why I’m letting Michel Heurtault, owner of the fabulous umbrella shop, Parasolerie Heurtault, tell the story behind his flabbergasting art.
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“I’ve been obsessed with umbrellas from the time I was three. I have no idea why, but I could spend hours breaking them apart and studying how they opened and closed. I collected all of the umbrellas I could find, and by the time I was eight I was repairing them for people in my neighborhood. Needless to say, my parents thought I was nuts.

Portrait-Heurtault
I moved from Toulon to Paris when I was eighteen and began working as a costume designer. I eventually opened my own company, Art ‘Scene, where I made costumes and corsets for film shoots, theatre productions as well as fashion houses such as Dior. I poured the most luxurious elements into my costumes.

Red-stripe-silk-umbrella

Throughout the same period, I devoted all of my free time to making umbrellas and parasols. I didn’t want to make them in polyester and plastic like everyone else, so I started researching ways to waterproof and UV-protect noble materials, like lace, cotton, silk and linen. Anyone can put fabric on an umbrella, but my signature is to use only the finest materials, experiment with the cut, and handcraft the finishes so that it become a striking object with a soul.

Vintage-umbrellas

I use an 18th century machine to cut my fabric into eight panels and then bend and shape them to create the curves and silhouette of the umbrella. The fabric needs to be as taught as possible. The sound of the umbrella when it opens, the stretching and tightening until it springs into place is a sign of quality. The more the fabric flutters the more it catches the wind like a sail, causing the umbrella to shake and break.

Umbrella-Details

I do all of the detail and finishing by hand. I pad the ribs and smock the runners with fabric for aesthetic and practical reasons. It unifies the color of the design, prevents rusting, and helps the umbrella open and close more easily

Umbrella-lace-detail

I consider the umbrella to be a fashion accessory. Not only is it a beautiful item to carry in your hand, it gives you instant attitude and allure. I’m always shocked by the number of people who spend a ton of time and energy on their ensemble, but then ruin it with a revolting umbrella.

Black-silk-and-lace-umbrella

Instead of a cigarette, you have an umbrella to play with. It’s the final touch to a chic silhouette.

So many women come to me and say that they’d love to carry a parasol, but that it’s not really fashionable. And I tell them, ‘it’s not just about fashion, it’s about personal comfort.’ When you’re under an parasol you don’t sweat as much, you’re makeup doesn’t drip off, you’re not oppressed by the sun, and of course it’s great for protecting your skin.

Transparent-Umbrellas

Umbrellas have been vulgarized as disposable objects. We throw away 10 million per year in France and 33 million in the USA. During your grandmother’s era an umbrella was a luxury object, you bought one every year and when it broke, you had it repaired. I’m not obsessed with the past, I’m just thinking about a future that’s ecologically chic.”

Shop and Atelier Address: 91 Avenue Daumesnil, 75012, Paris
Price: Starting at €300

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15 Responses to “Paris Umbrella Artisan Makes Showery Chic”

  1. Fabrice says:

    I love the black one that looks like “jarretelle”!

  2. Lea Brown says:

    I too am in love w/umbrellas. Here, in BC. Canada, we aren’t provided with such beautiful choices. It certainly stifles one’s style & creativity. We are often left with the choice of what isn’t the ugliest rather than what beautifies. Very glad to have seen some of your creations!

    Lea
    Surrey, BC
    Canada

  3. Heather says:

    Absolutely gorgeous!

  4. nichole says:

    GASP! Love these.

  5. Charles G Thompson says:

    Amazingly beautiful works of art! Bravo to Mr. Heurtault.

  6. Karen says:

    These umbrellas would make any rainy day shine!

  7. martha frankel says:

    only you could make umbrellas seem sexy and more fabulous than clothes! this blog is amazing. who took these photos? i am so embarrassed by mt twisted and ripped NY Yankees umbrella

  8. Idil says:

    Tres jolisa!! J’aime beaucoup .

  9. Zeva Bellel says:

    Martha, are you kidding? Your beat up Yankee umbrella sounds brilliant. I’m jealous.

  10. Jessica says:

    Gorgeous! I want one! They warrant a remake of the “Umbrellas of Cherbourg”! Jacques Demy would be jealous. Great find Zeva, and amazing photos. Who took them?

  11. Erica says:

    Oh my, such beauty to behold. I am in love with the Gold and Red one.

  12. Elizabeth Reece says:

    Dear M. Heurtault -
    I live in the U.S.A., and have a beautiful old parasol that is French. It has the manufacturer name “CAZAL – Paris et Londres” on the stem. It has raised initials on the stem/handle, which I believe is made of ivory. The top part is off-white silk, with an overlay of black lace. SO beautiful. It needs some repair and care. If you are interested in it, I would like to give it to you. I would like to see this parasol preserved – it is antique and lovely. If you are interested, I will send it. All I ask is that perhaps you can send me a picture via e-mail of whatever you do with it. Let me know if you would like this parasol.
    Thank you for your time -
    Elizabeth Reece

  13. Ardis says:

    I lived in Japan for a while and even though young women use them, they’re considered old-fashioned. But the atmosphere of a city in the summer when women carry a parasol is so graceful and joyous. I recovered an umbrella and it is not easy, but definitely worth the effort. My favorite trims can be showcased instead of hiding on pillowcases! Wonderful work Monsieur Heurtault, bravo.

  14. The HiP Paris Blog » Blog Archive » Private Shopping with Miki on the Rue St. Honoré says:

    [...] For when the ladies need a little shade: Custom Artisan Umbrellas [...]

  15. Perry Lynn Smith says:

    Exquisite. Here in the sun-rich little beach town of San Clemente, California, how could these umbrellas not bring a smile, and perhaps a little gasp to all whose eyes fall upon them. A lovely, lovingly crafted work of art. Je vous applaudis

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