I remember the very first time I ever heard of Ecole Lesage : I have been purchasing new fabrics in my favorite B&J, here in New York. It is always such a torturous process since the place is housing the best collection of the most exquisite fabrics from all over the world. I remember being almost done with my selection, when I came across a small cut of fabric covered in gold thread embroidery and beads. The origin was marked as "Lesage. Paris." and the price was over 600$ per yard.
The second time I ever heard of Lesage was during my visit to Paris in September 2011. That time I went to see Mr.H, the head of Maison Michel - hat makers to Chanel, Nina Ricci, Givenchy and ect. It was an interesting visit and conversation with Mr. H went from my Atelier in US to the books by Dostoevsky, throw a box of Laduree macaroons in the middle and you will, pretty much, have an idea of what was going on. Sometime in the process I have learned that in 2002 Karl Lagerfeld, in his desperate attempt to save the rare jewels of Couture, bought several unique Ateliers in Paris . Maison Michel being one of them. Lesage - was another one. From that point on I knew: I need to see it, feel it and touch it. And so I did.
This past January of 2012, right after the end of my presentation at Premiere Classe, Polina and I made our way to the France's oldest embroidery house. The History of Lesage is going all the way to Napoleon the Third and continues to live in the exquisite work of art for Chanel, YSL and just about any Couture House in Paris. I think I have mentioned once to you that it never seize to amaze me how hidden this treasured Ateliers are in Paris. They live their beutiful lifes under unassuming signs, in the labirints of small Parisian streets.
Lesage, actually, has two locations: the first one, the Atelier itself is located upstairs in one of the large apartments and very carefully guarded against anyone who does not work their or who is not the client. You are greeted at the door by this very fun mannequin with small swatches of embroidery placed ll over it. Lesage also has a school(opened in 1992) where future professional in Couture are trained to be "Les petite mains".
Unfortunately, the legendary owner of the Lesage, François Lesage, the man I have hoped to meet in person, has died just few short weeks prior to our arrival in Paris...
It is impossible to not to get infected by the magic of Lesage. Once you see it in person, it is really beyond anything you could ever imagine. Polina and I, breathless, were led through the door of the School into the heart of it - the work room where a small class of 4 were creating an artwork of a museum quality. We were told that some of the work is being done for LV and, of course, Chanel. We were not allowed to photograph the actual work since it is, understandable, protected for the interest of the client.
At the end of all of it I have made up my mind to come back to Lesage later this year to study Couture techniques in embroidery and beading and receive a very special Couture Certificate from Lesage. I am in the process of making necessary accommodations and planning the time frame, after all, it takes several hundred hours to be trained. It looks like I will be leaving in Paris for a while. :-) I will call it my Parisian experience. Wishing all of you wonderful week ahead!