Disclosure: Lynn Byrne was provided a free copy for review by Vendome Publishing
Gown by Oscar Carvallo of Sophie Hallette lace, embroidered with copper beads, tulle flounces and applique leather peacock feathers on the bodice. Eagle Eye Collection, winter 2013.
If you are into interior design, it is a sure bet you like fashion too. The two fields have always had a symbiotic relationship.
And if you like fashion and interiors, its one itsy bitsy step to an adoration of textiles and the arts related to creating fabulous ones. Here is where the book, Haute Couture Ateliers: The Artisans of Fashion by Helene Farnault comes in.
Cape dress by Stephane Rolland in sand-coloured muslin and jersey, embroidered with burnt ostrich feathers.
This exquisitely photographed book delves into the work of the artisans who lie just behind the scenes of famous fashion houses, yet who play a critical role in bringing the imagined dreams of designers such as Chanel to Valentino to actual reality.
Organza ribbon macramé and ribbon embroidery by Marion Chopineau.
The works of embroiderers, weavers, lace makers, textile makers, feather workers, leather makers, pleaters, fan makers, passementerie makers, flower makers, fur sculptors and more are brought to life with highly detailed illustrations. Their stories are told with loving and inspiring respect.
Christian Dior haute couture bustier and coat by Raf Simons. Fabric flowers with bead centers on tulle with black chain-stitch stems. Spring-summer 2012
You will learn that, for the most part, these firms are remarkably unchanged over the centuries, and continue to be run by family-owned workshops. While every effort is made to preserve ancient crafts, modern advancements are incorporated were possible without sacrificing quality. For example, weavers have hand looms as well as mechanical ones run by proprietary software.
Fascinating insights abound. The book opens with a close look at the process of couture beginning with sketches, a cotton fabrication, colors and accessories—all shared with the client.
“Rachel.” Lace wedding dress designed by Fanny Liautard embroidered with iridescent sequins over a silk satin underskirt.
Then each artisan’s world is closely examined. Let’s look at few to give you a small taste of this ravishing world.
Take the art of embroidery. Did you know that the process of couture embroidery involves steps called “pricking out” and “pouncing?”
With pricking out, a motif is drawn on tracing paper and then inserted between two blank sheets of tracing paper, all stapled together. The paper is dry soaped to prevent the papers from tearing and then the motif is “pricked out” by hand with needle-like instruments. After that, the fabric is pinned to the table with the “pricked out” tracing paper. Pouncing involves pressing chalk or powder through the tracing paper to transfer the motif to the fabric. The design is set with alcohol and then the actual embroidering begins.
Broderies Vermont private collection. Silk ottoman fitted coat with oak leaves embroidered in gold cannetille. Alexander McQueen for Givenchy, spring-summer 1997
Feather makers now banned from using feathers from exotic birds to prevent the birds’ extinction, have become increasingly inventive with the plumes from edible farmed species. To create impressive effects, the artisans use coloration, cutting, crimping and sculpting in a myriad of ways.
Design of notebook for Nelly Saunier containing lists of materials, colours, and dye references as well as feather samples.
It takes five steps to make one artificial flower: the fabric must be prepared, petals and leaves are cut out, they are dyed and shaded, the flower is shaped using flower irons, rollers and tweezers and finally the parts are assembled.
Caption: A drawer full of artificial seeds, ears and stamens. In the foreground are bunches of waxed orange blossom and jasmine petals.
So what does all of this have to do with interior design? To put it most succinctly—two words: sheer beauty.
This book is one of the stunning volumes seen in recent years. Anyone interested in creating beauty (and isn’t that what interior design is all about) can’t helped but be inspired by the glorious color combinations and fabulous detailing seen on every page.
It’s a must for the library of any aesthete.
Lynn Byrne received a free review copy of , Haute Couture Ateliers: The Artisans of Fashion by Helene Farnault from Vendome Press. Captions to the photos are by Helene Farnault and are from the book. All opinions expressed remain Lynn Byrne’s.