It's la rentrée and everyone is back at work this week, for better or worse. The stores are all reopening in Paris after the summer break and the city is feeling alive again. This week, we decided to focus on a few people returning to work in Paris whose jobs perform a beautiful and very specific function.
Traditional French artisans are still alive and well in Paris and the city seems to be one of the only places where antique traditions can not only continue to exist but thrive. It's not unusual to find stores in Paris that sell just one type of item - parasols, fairy lights, cashmere - and often these stores are grouped together to create tiny quartiers that become known for a single material or object.
We've focused on just a few this week and chose to upload short videos to show the amazing hands-on work performed by these skilled workers. Can you really appreciate how pleats are made without movement?
Plissage is the very specific art of pleating and the masters from Gérard Lognon use the same traditional methods of folding and steaming to create astonishing textiles for clients such as Dior and Louis Vuitton.
Cardboard moulds are used to create the pleats and some at this atelier are over 100 years old while others are far more contemporary having been custom created for clients who still send this beautiful craftsmanship down the runway today. We particularly love the geometric pleating. Gorgeous!
Did you know that the vast majority of sunglasses are all mass produced by the same Italian company - Luxottica? Well, not these ones. Maison Bonnet creates bespoke frames using a range of materials with a special focus on tortoise shell - they have a special allowance to use stock acquired prior to the Washington Convention in 1973.
Each client is required to sit for several fittings in order to achieve the perfect fit, carefully moulded by hand. You can often see artisans at their store near the Palais Royale hand polishing and tweaking gorgeous frames while surrounded by dark cabinets containing samples of each material.
We have a little fetish for books at Studio Ombre HQ and our attention isn't just focused on the content of the volumes but also their bindings and the book as an object itself. It's always a shame to discover that a book you've been anticipating turns out to be poorly constructed but it's a great delight when adequate care has been taken.
Nathalie Lemaitre is a master bookbinder who creates gorgeous bespoke bindings for new books that range from traditional black and red leather to some very avant-garde treatments that incorporate framed objects, images created from leather cut-outs, and thick grass-like threads that protrude from the binding. Quite astonishing.
Only in Paris can you find not one but two world renowned (and rather expensive) parasolieries where all the umbrella and parasols are made by hand to exacting standards for presumably exacting clients.
Michel Heurtault is a master of wet-weather accessories and has an gorgeous boutique dedicated to his rainy obsession at the chic Viaduc des Arts near Bastille. It's well worth taking a look at his website to see the amazing range of fabrics and materials he uses - it's like stepping back in time.
The printing press may have altered the course of history but it also changed art-making practices, allowing artists to easily create multiple prints with very fine details for the first time. Walter Benjamin even went so far as to say that this new reproducibility of art means that it will always be based in politics. Heavy.
Idem Paris is dedicated to the art of the press and acts as a magnet to local and international artists wanting the best press to print their lithographs and silk-screens. David Lynch is a huge fan and he directed this short film about the atelier.