>> Francois Lesage, acknowledged widely as the greatest couture embroiderer, died today at age 82. He had been ill for a number of years but remained active in his eponymous business until recently.
Maison Lesage was founded by Lesage's father, who collaborated with early 20th-century designers like Vionnet at Elsa Schiaparelli. Lesage took over his father's firm at 20, later joking: "[I was] born on a mound of pearls and glitter. It never occurred to me to do anything else. I still sleep in the bedroom where I was born."
Under Lesage's 60-some-odd years of leadership, the house worked with a diverse group of clients, including Dior, Givenchy, Balenciaga, and Christian Lacroix. The company has been owned by Chanel since 2002. "Our role is to be chameleons," Lesage explained in recent years. "With Karl [Lagerfeld], I am Karl. With Christian, I am Christian . . . We receive a sketch and it is up to us to interpret. The couturier is the architect, we are the decorators."
Maison Lesage will continue under newly appointed artistic director Hubert Barrère. But, as Karl Lagerfeld said at the time of Chanel's purchase of the house in 2002: "There is no couture without embroidery and no embroidery without Lesage."