|Maison Lesage: Haute Couture Embroidery, by Patrick Mauriès
Although I've always described the inspiration for the holly dress as being by Pierre Balmain, its distinguishing feature - the stunning design of berries and frosted leaves - was actually created by the Paris embroidery house Lesage.
|Too good not to include yet again
The book tells the story of the firm; from its creation in 1924, through its association with many of the leading couture houses of the twentieth century, to its current position as one of Chanel's Métiers d'Art ateliers. It is extensively illustrated, with pictures of completed garments and many full-page, wonderfully detailed close-up photographs of different embroideries.
|Underside of an embroidery sample in progress
|My dream job! Embroiderers in the atelier, 2018
I hadn’t realised just how much of Lesage's work I have come across over the years, without realising it. First up, this 1925 dress by Vionnet, which appears in Patterns of Fashion, volume 2.
|Janet Arnold's illustration
|The centre front embroidery
I have seen this Schiaparelli coat in the V&A on my many, many visits there.
|Schiaparelli evening coat, 1937 (image © Victorian and Albert Museum, London)
Also in the V&A, the Balenciaga exhibition in 2017 included not only clothing but also several samples of embroidery and beading from the Lesage workshop.
|Lesage samples for Balenciaga
|Beading sample on dip-dyed organza, 1967
|The same beading on an evening coat, 1967
|Sample for an embroidered silk cocktail dress, 1960
When another example of the embroidered cocktail dress appeared on the Kerry Taylor Auctions Instagram account earlier in the year, not only did I recognise it at once, but I even twigged that the embroidery was slightly different! How nerdy is that?
|Close-up of the Kerry Taylor dress
|V&A on the left, Kerry Taylor on the right
I've seen numerous Schiaparelli pieces with Lesage embroidery at Kerry Taylor viewings over the years (I'm really hoping that I can attend in person again next year) but sadly, I didn't get to see this one. Possibly my favourite piece of Lesage work - after the holly dress, of course!
|Zodiac jacket, 1938-39
And to finish on the holly dress, another present. This was from my friend F, who is an absolute fiend at searching out the perfect vintage gift. These tights would be the ideal match for the dress, and the fact that they are by Pierre Balmain is almost too good to be true!
|Holly detail tights to go with my dress!