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François Lesage – The Haute Couture Embroidery Legend

François Lesage – The Haute Couture Embroidery Legend


Whenever we watch Europe’s finest haute couture fashion shows, the applause is loudly appraised to the main designer. Most of the glamour, flashes, media and paparazzi are there to celebrate the high-end house that has just presented their collection. Editors line up in a frenzy for an interview and a summary of the main inspiration for next year’s garments that will be adored by millions as soon as the photos and videos are released from the media.

As an haute couture consultant for Rethinktex, I always wondered along with other fashion designers: “To what level of mastery could their fashion shows really attain without the magical hands of knowledgeable artisans in the industry?

The old art form of embroidery, and the companies that specialize in it, maintain centuries of family traditions and is certainly a dying craft.

It is an unfortunate situation. Nowadays, the majority of young talent wishes to utilize the resources of technology, laser cuts and CAD systems for their creations.

In my opinion, there is nothing wrong with being resourceful and embracing today’s technology. However, like any form of art, there is a genesis to everything.In haute couture, it is moulage and embroidery.


One of my favorite embroidery designers is, François Lesage. Lesage was born in Chaville, France on March 31, 1929 and sadly ended his great legacy on the first of December, 2011. The almost magical, Maison Lesage, was inherited by his father, Albert Lesage.

Names, such as Balenciaga, Dior, Christian Lacroix, YSL, Givenchy, Elsa Schiaparelli, and Vionnet were one of many that relied on the meticulous work and hands of each artisan. These skilled craftspeople interpreted their designs from paper and make believe into reality, almost as if in a fairytale in which the main characters were pearls, diamonds, sequins, and elaborated threads.


After the passing of his father, François began his legendary direction of the Maison Lesage, ensuring that every design and project would be executed with perfection and excellence. Known to have worked every day of his life, monsieur Lesage did not accept ‘ordinary’ as an adjective for his finished products.

His works, from an YSL Van Gough jacket to a Jean Paul Gaultier leopard skin couture outfit requiring 700 hours of work, will forever be remembered as trademarks.

François loved his work in such a way that only he could express.

“Embroidery was the love of writing your dreams with a needle, with a pearl, with anything that could enchant and bring tenderly to life a décor, an ambiance, a souvenir.”

His meticulous work paid off in 2002, when Maison Lesage was sold to Chanel with the requisition that his artistic input would still exist.

Nominated as a Chevalier of the Legion d'Honneur in 2002, and later on as Maître d'Art from the French Ministry of Culture in November 2011, the fashion industry suffered greatly with his loss.

Frédéric Mitterrand, France Minister of Culture once said, "I cannot imagine fashion without embroidery, embroidery without Monsieur Lesage."

If you are an interesting, old soul who desires to learn more about this magical trade, kudos to you! Monsieur Lesage did leave his legacy to be taught at the workshops of Ecole Lesage,


where the tulle is still stretched over wooden frames and the jars are filled with glass beads, sequins, paillettes and pearls.

This video expresses visualy what words could never complement:

Long live Lesage!

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