Learning Embroidery at Maison Lesage

Tools

The Embroidery Sample and Beads to Use

This week, my classmates and I were able to visit Paris’ oldest embroidery studio, Maison Lesage. I always assumed that embroidery meant just sewing thread or yarn on material, but I learned it encompasses much more. You can add beads, sequins, pearls… basically any material to cloth and it would be considered embroidery. Founded in 1858, Maison Lesage works with major designers and fashion houses–Dior, Louis Vuitton, Yves Saint Laurent, Jean Paul Gaultier, etc.– to create masterpieces for their haute couture and ready-to-wear lines.

Minaudières Trésor Brode

Louis Vuitton’s Minaudières Trésor Brodé (2010 collection) were embroidered by Maison Lesage. For quality control, they only allowed three master stitchers to embroider all the bags.

We were able to tour the fabulous studio and caught a few glimpses of sketches from next week’s Paris Fashion week (hence no pictures were allowed inside). At the Maison Lesage, fashion designers approach the studio with a certain theme and the team brainstorms and creates small samples. They store ALL of their samples, which date back to the 1850s and include over 60,000 pieces!

Sample

Framed Sample in the Maison Lesage

Next to the Maison Lesage is actually a school, Ecole Lesage, which opened in 1992. Amateurs can sign up for embroidery courses and professionals can even be trained. After our tour, we were given a lesson in needlepoint and practiced setting beads and sequins. I’m not going to lie. It was painstaking work. My piece was only 1.5 inches by 1.5 inches and it took me two hours to do. I asked the teacher how long it takes her and she said 30 minutes. While that’s faster than two hours, 30 minutes is not that fast! I can’t imagine spending 800 hours to make a dress. I definitely understand haute couture better and why it costs so much. I will never look at embroidery the same.

Sketch

Original sketch to follow. The colors corresponded with the different materials to use.

Following the pattern

Trying my best to follow the pattern

Finished Product

My finished product. And yes, I am rocking patent pink Tory Burch flats.

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