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Sep 2016

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Posts Tagged ‘Couture’

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.

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Chavernet: Parisian Couture for the Modern Chick

yellow-couture-dress

Over the last ten years hundreds of French fashion artisans have been given the ax at venerable houses by number crunching executives sending production overseas. But one man’s trash is another man’s treasure…especially when centuries-old savoir-faire is heaped high in the bin!

french-fashion-label

Taking advantage of luxury industry’s shortsighted greed and indifference towards its own heritage, Chavernet, a new Paris-based couture house, is putting Paris’ forgotten couturiers back to work.

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Turning Heads at Maison Michel

handmade-hat-paris-maison-michel

The last place you’d expect to find a master milliner is on a small Parisian street best known for its delicious udon noodles and bento box lunches. But authentic Japanese cuisine is just as rare as handmade hats in Paris, so their co-habitation on the rue Sainte Anne is not so odd after all.

Up a winding set of stairs behind a cobblestone courtyard is the discreet home of the renowned Maison Michel where for a price not more than some designer jeans, you could own a timeless, one-of-a-kind accessory that is guaranteed to turn heads.

pink-ribbon-day-at-the-races-hat

Striking in its small, cozy configuration, the multi-room showroom and atelier hums with the sounds of straw weaving machines, seamstresses chattering, the shuffling of hand-written orders and the hissing of heaters baking fabric atop wooden hat molds.

felt-straw-hat-handmade-construction

Occupying the same space since its inception in 1936, Maison Michel was rescued from oblivion by Chanel’s Paraffection division in 1996 on their mission to save the heritage of struggling haute couture ateliers

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Catherine Hervé Lifts the Veil on Handmade Lace

herve-lace-pattern-closeup6

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Appointment with: Catherine Hervé, Meilleur Ouvrier de France in duchess lace
When: 2pm, February 17th, 2009
Where: Her weekly lacemaking class at a community center in Paris’ 15th arrondissement.
On the Agenda: Learn the secrets to handmade lace from France’s preeminent expert.
Glossary: Métier (cushion), gatlap (cloth with cut-out center), fuseaux (bobbins), fil (thread), grillé (grill-like pattern), toilé (cross-cross pattern)

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This might come as a shock, but before I discovered the haute handiwork of lace designer Catherine Hervé at a fair devoted to French artisans, the subject of handmade lace had never once flittered through my mind. (Crazy, I know!) Was it like crocheting? Did it require looms? Were there patterns? Easels? For the life of my, I just couldn’t picture how it was done, who was doing it, where they did it and why.

There was only one person I knew could solve this puzzle: the Queen of Lace herself.

In 2004, Hervé became the third person since 1924 to win the Meuilleur Ouvrier de France (Best Craftsman of France) title for duchess lace, giving her instant street cred as France’s leading practitioner of this painstaking craft.

lace-pillow-bobbins

After winning the MOF, Hervé traded in her job as a legal assistant to devote herself full-time to lace. By blending traditional techniques with non-conventional materials (colored threads, rayon, leather, wool, silk) she hopes to give the endangered medium a fresh, modern patina. In addition to creating her own original designs (which include three-dimensional lace sculptures, lace jewels, lace canvases, and lace appliqués for apparel) Hervé teaches the art of this mysterious medium each week to a growing number of devotees. From fashion designers and chatty grannies to summer tourists and this guy from Chartes who likes frog motifs, lace holds a seductive spell over a rather eclectic cast—one that I plan to temporarily join to witness the virtuoso at work.

herve-lace-close-up

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