Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Seeing Double at Chanel

At Paris Fashion Week, while I was outside of the Chanel SS/2012 show I was introduced to Sama and Haya Abu Khadra. The identical twins are 18-year-old sisters who are quickly becoming recognizable faces on sartorial blogs and fashion week front rows alike. Daughters of Rula Abu Khadra, founder of "The Art of Living" lifestyle boutique in Saudi Arabia, the girls currently live in Dubai.

They began generating buzz when they started buying for their mom’s store at international fashion weeks in 2008 at the young age of 15. Haya and Sama caused a fashion-blogger-frenzy when they showed up at events this year. With their beautiful cascading curls, model-like figures and, creative style choices, combining designer choices with colorful vintage picks, the two are definitely a show-stopping site.

Not only do the twins forecast trends for The Art of Living, they also occasionally hit the catwalks themselves. In 2009, they were personally invited to model for the Sonia Rykiel Spring collection in Dubai.

At such a young age, these girls are the image of stylish fashionistas, classy and sophisticated. There are definitely two stylish twins to keep an eye on for trend setting styles.

Monday, December 12, 2011

François Lesage 1929 - 2011

December 1, 2011 was a sad day for those in the fashion industry. Master of Couture embroidery, François Lesage, aged 82 passed away after a long battle with illness. M. Lesage was a true visionary in the fashion industry.

Tucked away in the attic rooms of a five story building, overlooked by Sacre Coeur, you will find Lesage, Europe’s most celebrated beadwork and embroidery house. These tiny rooms hold drawers and boxes filled with more than 60 tons of beads, sequins, threads and 100 year old jet. Here, over 50 women are employed to create the intricate embroidery and beadwork seen on the haute couture gowns that line the Parisian runways.

Since taking over the family business in 1949, François had been the head of the world's most famous embroidery salon. Although he admitted that he could not thread a needle let alone sew a button, the Lesage atelier produced over 80% of all beadwork and embroidery seen on the couture runways. Under Lesage's leadership, the house had acquired such prestigious clients as Dior, Yves Saint Laruent, Givenchy, and Christian Lacroix.

When hard times hit Lesage in 2002, Chanel bought up the atelier along with four other atelier's of the industry’s key suppliers as part of its bid to ensure the survival of the "petites mains," or artisans. François still stayed on as head of Lesage and oversaw the daily productions of the house until his death.

With an embroiderer father and fashion colorist mother, Lesage joked that he was "born on a mound of pearls and glitter". Mr. Lesage was revered for maintaining the couture craft and its tradition of making every stitch and attaching every bead by hand. Unfortunately, hand beadwork and embroidery is a dying trade. The number of artisans is diminishing for a few reasons including, crafts workers retiring, a younger generation unwilling to carry on family tradition, and cheaper labor being available overseas. M. Lesage was a leader in trying to revive the craft and keep the tradition going when he opened Ecole Lesage.

Lesage founded his embroidery school, Ecole Lesage, in 1992 next to his Paris workshop to pass on the craft to the next generation. I attended Ecole Lesage in 2009 for the Professional Couture Embroidery and Beadwork course, and was truly lucky to meet M. Lesage a few times. There were two times when he walked through the classroom and personally checked my work and embroidery stitches. I feel honored to have been able to meet such legend. Inside the Lesage atelier, I had the opportunity to see hundreds of vintage embroidery samples originally made for designers such as Yves Saint Laurent and Christian Lacroix. It was a once in a lifetime experience that I will never forget.

Even though M. Lesage no longer owned the atelier, he was still very much involved in the designing and daily running of the atelier. I also saw him attending the past few Chanel runway shows in Paris where he was known for sharing insights with front-row neighbors on the craftsmanship in the clothes.

A week before his passing, Lesage was awarded the title of Maître d'Art, "art master" by the French culture ministry, giving him a chance to "say goodbye", said a spokeswoman for his workshop. He was also made an officer of the Légion d'Honneur in 2007.

I hope Lesage will continue to thrive as France's oldest and most well known embroidery atelier in honor of François Lesage. Couture beadwork and embroidery is one of the most beautiful and intricate art forms that transforms fashion into wearable pieces of art.

The atelier will continue on under the direction of Chanel, and continue to produce beautiful couture embroidery pieces for the fashion world.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Karl Lagerfeld Windows

Parisian department store, Printemps, unveiled their Christmas window display last week with Karl Lagerfeld showing his wonderfully designed, Chanel themed displays. Once I heard that there were Chanel windows on display, naturally I had to go! Karl designed the windows consisting of marionette puppets that moved around. What could be better than mini-Karl puppets complete with his signature glasses and fingerless gloves!
I took some photos to share with those who cannot be in Paris to see these wonderful windows in person. Be sure to click on the videos to see the puppets move and dance around!

Another one of the Karl designed windows had a Russian Ballet with puppets that danced and twirled.

Wouldn't you want to fly with Chanel airlines!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Art Nouveau Apartment

While wandering around Paris a couple of weeks ago, I came across this fabulous Art Nouveau building on Avenue Rapp, no. 29. I just love the look of this architecture and the character that it gives the building. Designed by Jules Lavirotte, this building was described by Salvador Dali as "the most erotic facade of Paris." Every inch of the facade is tiled with ceramic by Alexandre Bigot which adds to the unique look of the structure. Wouldn't it be fun to live in this building!?

Friday, November 11, 2011

Issey Miyake - Paris Fashion Week

I can't believe I am still catching up with posts about the shows I attended at Paris Fashion Week! There was just so much inspiration to share and write about, that it is taking a while to go through all of it and get it posted!
One of the larger shows that I attended at Fashion Week was the Issey Miyake show held in the Jardin des Tuileries. After waiting in the hot sunshine for over 45 mins we were finally allowed into the massive tent where the show would be held. Thankfully there were cold water bottles and hand held fans waiting for us once inside the venue.
Once the show started, I quickly realized it was worth the wait! The theme of the collection was "Bloom Skin." It featured light, nude tone clothes with vivid colors symbolizing a woman who possesses both gentleness and strength.

The show featured a series of different looks all pertaining to flowers. It started out with a section titled "Bud," which symbolized an innocent bud waiting to bloom.

As the show went on, you could see the transformation of the flowers from a bud, growing stems into blossom, then full bloom. It was a beautiful show full of color and flowing fabrics. Using Japan's advanced weaving technology and Kyoto's traditional printing techniques, the silky soft fabrics showed delicate color gradations.

Semi transparent textures were created using a traditional dye house in Kyoto, which uses a special process on fabrics knit with two types of fibers. One fiber is dissolved, creating a sheer while the other maintains itself as a printed color.

The hat and head pieces in this show by, Christophe Coppens, were also a beautiful whimsical addition to the wonderful clothes. One reason why I liked this show is because they stayed true to the original Issey Miyake brand by manufacturing in cooperation with local craftspeople and creating pieces that are only made-in-Japan technology and ideas.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

"A Needle Pulling Thread" Article Part 3 of 3

Pick up a copy of "A Needle Pulling Thread" to read all about my jewelry! This month's magazine features a two page article with many photos of my work. This is the 3rd article in a series that I wrote about my life in Paris, and Couture embroidery. Pick up your copy today!

Monday, October 24, 2011

The Many Hats of Fashion Week

From hats to fascinators and headbands, there were plenty of head adornments to be seen at Paris Fashion Week. I captured these street styles outside of the Chanel and Guy Laroche shows.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Models, Off The Clock

Ever wonder what the models look like off the runways of Fashion Week? I took a few photos of the famous faces after some of the shows. You can see that some of them still have the hair and makeup fresh from the stage. From Ruby Aldridge to Freja Beha I captured some great shots of the models straight off the runway! These models were taken outside the Hermes, Valentino, Issey Miyake and Chanel shows.