On 16, Dec 2014 | | In Best in France | By Carole-Eve
French Artisans: endangered species?
A couple days ago, I attended a conference about French Luxury. I was surprised to learn that there are no more workshops in France to be able to produce
fabrics to make suits and costumes, as it used to be in the past. All fabrics are imported. Regarding the Made in France accessories, a few independent artisans hold out against a difficult context.
In the 80’s, nothing was too glamour or too expensive for the Haute Couture. Plumassiers, fan makers, milliners, glove makers, shoemakers located around the Grands Boulevards in Paris, close to the Grands Couturiers, were requested for their amazing talents to adorn Haute Couture garments.
Today, the situation is really different and we cannot count the number of independent artisans who were obliged to close their workshops due to economic difficulties and those who are about to close soon as there are no buyers to ensure the continuity of their workshops.
Patrimony living on borrowed time?
Lorenzo Ré, who sculpts lasts for milliners, is almost the last one in France. Mr. Ré who works for Chanel, Dior, Givenchy will be retired soon. His brother Tino who has designed the shape of JR’s Stetson for the TV series “Dallas” faces the same situation.
In France, there are many examples like the ones mentioned previously. When a workshop closes, it is a piece of French patrimony that disappears.
In 1900, we could find in Paris 20 Maisons de Couture and about 100 of them in 1946. Nowadays, there are no more than 14 ones, among which Christian Dior, Chanel, Maison Martin Margiela or Stéphane Rolland.
In 2002, worried about the disappearance of such specific savoir-faire, essential to the Haute Couture, as all garments and accessories have to be made by hand, Chanel, decided to buy and integrate in the prestigious House, independent artisans. Other Luxury Maisons followed that example.
Some glimmer of hope?
Since 10 years now, on Karl Lagerfeld’s initiative, “Le défilé des Métiers d’Art” is a major fashion “rendez-vous”, taking place each year in main cities as Bombay, Edinburgh, Dallas, etc. Such “image” happenings are a way to draw the attention on the French precarious immaterial heritage.
Hermès also organises “Le Festival des Métiers” to put the light in Hermès boutiques the fabulous work of art of their talented watchmakers or leather craftsmen.
As for the LVMH group, about 40 workshops in France open their doors to the public during an event called “Les Journées Pariculières”. During 2 days, the public can discover the amazing know-how of French artisans and talk to them.
I encourage you to attend “Les Journées Pariticulières” as you will really spend a unique moment. Make sure that you book your appointment in advance as this event attracts many people. Seats are limited!
In House savoir-faire…
To make sure to maintain the precious French savoir-faire alive, a great number of Luxury Maisons have also opened in house training centres to develop the skills of talented students that will guarantee the survival of our “Made in France” unique savoir-faire.
I hope these initiatives will be sufficient to keep or patrimony alive. I cannot imagine that some savoir-faire will be lost forever.
My confidential addresses…
If you come to Paris, I recommend you a few addresses where you will be able order made to measure accessories from French independent artisans working for Haute Couture:
♥ Sandrine Bourg, Milliner, 31, bis rue des Tournelles, 75003 Paris. www.sandrinebourg.com
♥ Emilie Moutard-Martin, Plumassière (artisan that creates items in feathers). 42, boulevard Ornano 75018 Paris. www.emiliemoma.com
♥ Serge Amoruso, Leather Craftsman and Designer, 37 avenue Daumesnil 75012 Paris. www.grandsateliersdefrance.com/fr/artisans/fiche/id/3
♥ Anne Hoguet, Fan Maker. 2, boulevard de Strasbourg, 75010 Paris. You can also enjoy the great fan museum that Anne Hoguet has opened to the public; There, you will admire a collection of fans from the XVII to the XX centuries. www.annehoguet.fr