02 December 2011 by

The Quintessential Couture Embroiderer, Francois Lesage, Has Died Aged 82

Francois Lesage 1929 - 2011

Sad news this morning in the world of fashion as we hear that the embroidery designer, François Lesage, has died in Paris aged 82. It truly does represent the end of an era for embroidery. As Susannah Frankel in the Independent put it;

‘Lesage’s elaborate handiwork has graced the designs of all the grandest couturiers for more than half a century… As well as providing fanciful surface embellishment to everyone from Cristobal Balenciaga to Yves Saint Laurent and from Christian Dior to Valentino Garavani, as a young man Lesage put the glittering finishing touches to the costumes of Hollywood greats including Marlene Dietrich, Ava Gardner and Olivia de Havilland, all of whom sparkled both on screen and off in his hands.’

There are so many stories about the man whose name is synonymous with the highest quality of embroidery, how he grew up in a fashion family, ‘bounced on the knee of Elsa Schiaparelli’ as a baby, that he and his Maison worked with the greats of haute couture, the more lavish the better, in particular his work is associated with Chanel and Lacroix.

Chanel Couture Spring Summer 2011

Heavily embellished collections like this Chanel Couture Spring Summer 2011 would not exsit without Lesage and his atelier

Another of Lesage’s achievements was to open an embroidery school, in 1992 located in the same building as his workshops, to ensure that the finely honed skills of his trade were not lost for the future. In 2002 Francois sold the company to Chanel, which boosted the profile of the embroidery industry and brought it to greater prominence, with the phenomenal Chanel publicity machine.

Luckily his skills live on, thanks to the next generation of his workers who he trained. We expect tributes will be paid from each of the most glamorous quarters of the fashion industry today and over the weekend.

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