Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The passing of Francois Lesage

This is a photo I took of Monsieur Lesage while attending classes at Maison Lesage. The Couture world lost one of its own on December 1st. He was charming and gracious and I will always be grateful for the time he spent with me.

Every day he came into class wearing a different embroidered waist coat. Here he is holding a metier with an interpretation of Van Gogh's Sunflowers created in sequins. In his left-hand is one of the French cigarettes that he was famous for. Behind me was a dress form with a beaded gown he was designing for the Queen of Thailand, a photo I've never posted, as he requested that the queen be the first to see his creation.  I was fortunate to spend the day with him photographing 120 years of beaded couture samples beginning with the House of Worth up to his present collection. I zipped through thirteen rolls of film while Monsieur Lesage told amazing stories about his life, the couture designers he worked with, and the women he clothed. He said his business thrived due to Texas socialites and Arab princesses. I was mesmerized. His favorite beauty to wear his designs....Grace Kelly.

The House of Lesage is responsible for 85% of all couture beading. His office walls were lined with cork, sporting a variety of sketches and every single sketch was done in pencil, by him.  After returning from Paris, I compiled a slide/lecture presentation of beaded samples; a presentation that I continue to present to guilds. He showed me  a room in his private atelier, filled with over 2 tons of sequins, in every color you could imagine.

 All of us have "fairytale" moments in our lives and being in Paris, attending couture beading classes, was one of mine. During the time there, I took gold metal thread classes, classes on working with metal strips, raffia, silk chenille and padding leather strips, techniques that can be seen today on any Paris runway. Our classes revolved around tambour work, a technique using a tambour needle, gold thread and thousands of sequins. This is an extremely difficult class to teach and equally difficult to master in a classroom. Tambour work is most evident today on evening tops beaded with sequins and produced in India.

Due to Monsieur Lesage, I became smitten with sequins and couching gold metal threads.

When I returned, I created a small silk etui in his honor, using gold metal threads and couching. Will photograph the piece and post.

There are several books on the work of Lesage. The coffee table book "The Art of Lesage" by Palmer White will undoubtedly inspire. I had Monsieur Lesage sign my copy and if an inscription could make a girl swoon, his certainly did.

Chanel purchased the House of Lesage several years ago and hopefully the art of beading will continue.

Adieu Monsieur Lesage...

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