Friday, January 15, 2010

The House of Lesage

In the heart of Paris, 50 seamstresses are hunched over wooden frames feverishly stitching hundreds of tiny cut glass beads, sequins and rhinestones onto gossamer cloth for “The House of Lesage”. This is why I came to Paris. I studied Professional Haute Couture Embroidery with the workers at Lesage. Owned by Chanel, The House of Lesage is one of Europe's most well known Beadwork and Embroidery houses. Although Lesage is owned by Chanel, they are currently responsible for 85% of all beading and embroidery that grace the world’s famous couture collections including, Chanel, Christian Dior, and Lanvin.

For my course, I had to work 150 hours in Lesage, and another 150 on my own. I learned all kinds of stitches and beadwork. First, I had to learn all the stitches on a sample piece of gossamer fabric such as this sample made from sequins beads, and ribbon.
Once I had accomplished this, I was able to start my main project. It ended up taking me about 400 hours to complete it using hundreds of beads, sequins and threads. Below are some pictures of my work at Lesage.

The embroidery technique for beads and sequins hand sewn on the reverse of the fabric used by Lesage is called Luneville (named after the town in France that started it in the early 19th century). On average, Lesage hand sews 100 million sequins and 150lbs of beads a year.
François Lesage, is the 80-year-old master and last remaining heir of the 150-year-old establishment. I got to meet François twice while I was there. He would come and stand over me watching as I embroidered. Talk about intimidating!
Now that I am trained in Haute Couture Embroidery, I am hoping to find a job to use my newly acquired skills. Until then, I am beading and embroidering pieces for my Pairs collection, soon to be available at


  1. hi i'm from singapore, and i'm wondering how do i sign up for a course at lesage???

  2. Hi! I'm waving at you and have enjoyed reading about your study at Ecole Lesage. I hope to get there one day myself. You might also want to check out the work of Shirlee Fassell and her blog Needle and Hook. Though she didn't take the professional course, she has traveled there several times and taken many classes. She is also working on her own designs right now so you might enjoy checking her out...Thanks for saying hi!

  3. On the Ecole Lesage web site, there is a tool wrapped onto the spool of thread, next to the needle. What is it called, how can I get one and learn how to use it in Seattle? Thanks

  4. The tool that you are speaking about is called the "Luneville Hook" or "Tambour Hook" in the US. I am not sure if anyone teaches the technique in Seattle, but I know of someone that teaches in Kentucky. There are only a handful of people that teach this specialized course outside of France. You can also google it on YouTube and find some videos there on the techniques.

  5. Can I pay you to buy me their book? I can't find it anywhere! I will send you money on paypal...pretty please.

  6. Hi,
    Where you at Lesage as an intern or did you pay for the stay? In case you did pay how much did it cost? And how long was your stay?

    Kindly regards
    Nicole Grünfeld

  7. Hi Nicole,
    I payed to study at Ecole Lesage. For all the information, you can visit their website

  8. Hi, I am thinking about going to lesage in may, I have visited the house when I was there in 2008 and always wanted to do that. I have a degree in fashion design but I have always been interested in embroidery and textiles. would you be able to tell me after doing this would I be able to find an internship or two in paris and work back in states?
    My Name is Beenish Dadwani email add:
    Really appreciate you help :)

  9. Is everything embroidered by hand or do they do some of the background work by computerized embroidery machines, then fill in beads and sequins by hand?

  10. Hello,

    I was wondering your process on marking up your fabric (silk organza) with your design? Can you describe this step by step?

  11. Does Chanel now own the Lesage operation in India started by Francois Lesage's son? If so, how is that working where is the work for fashion from Lesage being created? When I looked up Lesage in Paris on Google I get an address to a warehouse looking district by Paris in Pantin. I would expect French embroidery to be made in France. Does anyone know anything about what is going on now?