Marie-Renée Otis, artist in residence in Paris, 
Fellow of the Council of Arts and Letters of Quebec 

Haute Couture Fabrics

In Paris, the borough Faubourg St-Honoré is reputed to be chic and elegant. One can find there the boutiques of the most famous brands. Many of them have a liveried doorman on duty. Do you picture the luxury of this neighbourhood?

The boutique Janssens & Janssens, specialised in Haute Couture fabrics, is also located in Faubourg St-Honoré, on the little street Anjou. I found in that store sumptuous fabrics: embroidered silk, duchess satin (heavy silk satin, 129 g per square metre), organza (rigid veil, 60 g per square metre), radzimir (heavy twill silk, 128 g per square metre, broken twill weave), laces, percale (high quality of very fine cotton) and cashmere in every colors of the rainbow (fine silky wool fabric, 80 g per square metre).

Those fabrics are richly embroidered, textured, openworked, embossed, indented, machine made or handmade, according to Françoise Janssens’ specifications. Janssens & Janssens work for Haute Couture designers for many years now, consequently influencing the newest streams in fashion.
Françoise Jenssens in her shop

Janssens’ clientele comes from the Middle East, the North Africa, the Far East, the South America, in short from everywhere around the world. Those fabrics are in fact destined to aristocracy and royal weddings.

For my part, I went at Jenssens’ for purchasing a little piece of moiré fabric. I need it to practice the new technique I learned in Joigny, the Pinceauté (see Travelogue no 8 for more explanations and photos).

This visit at Jenssens’ made me quite humble, even a little bit discouraged.

Everything in embroidery has been already made and at perfection!

Embroidered Satin sold at Jenssens’

Duchess Satin, heavy silk satin, 129 g per square metre

Organza, rigid veil, 60 g per square metre

Radzimir, heavy twill silk, 128 g per square metre, broken twill weave

Percale, high quality of very fine cotton

Cashmere, fine silky wool fabric, 80 g per square metre, 
here a blend of silk and Cashmere goat wool

To continue to dream, here is a link to an English short video for a virtual visit of the boutique

Open house at Sang-Won Lee’s Studio, 
from South Korea

A big mural is hanged in Lee Sang-Won’s flat. An entire wall, from ceiling to floor, composed by even sized carton squares, 10 x 15 inches, on these squares: watercolor paintings everywhere, swimmer subjects everywhere, men, women, children, everybody is in bathing suits. But they are faceless.  Nevertheless, their gestures are very expressive. They play in the water. We can see they have fun, they enjoy the Summer weather.

The characters in the paintings are faceless, there is no water, no beach, no sun, no landscape. Where do those scenes happen? Are they located in South Korea or in France? Well, those characters have no citizenship. They are simply human beings.

The ensemble of the paintings gives a very dynamic effect and achieves this with so few details! The richness created with emptiness.

One of the watercolor paintings by Sang-Won Lee

The Archeological Crypt Museum of Notre-Dame of Paris

At least once a week I pass in front of the archeological crypt of Notre-Dame but I’m not attracted to visit it. Why would I want to visit it? The weather is superb, the streets are full of a colorful crowd, the life of the city fascinates me. There is no reason to bury myself underground.

And then I thought, maybe I’m missing something unique, maybe I let escape a significant thing. I’m in Paris not only for embroidery or the on-the-street museums, but I'm also here for the under-street museums, the bowels of the city. So I went down to the crypt.

It wasn’t as much dark or as vast that I had imagined. This museum shows the beginning of Paris, 2 000 years ago: Lutetia. At the time, Paris was a prosperous harbour, flourishing under Roman’s occupation of Gaul. Those ruins gave me another idea, eventually to visit les Arènes de Lutèce (Arenas of Lutetia), located in the 5th borough.

In the crypt museum, computers help the visitors to make a trip on the History lane. Among others, there are 3D simulations of the building of Notre-Dame of Paris, during the 13th century. As viewers, we can walk the narrow streets, stop at the fishmonger’s stand, buy some warm bread at another stall, turn around and go back toward another narrow street.

A convenient travel in Time, made possible by modern high tech.

The Archeological Crypt Museum, a former city under the actual city

The photo research and the translation are made by Lucie Daigneault


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The Embroiderers' Association of Canada (EAC) is a national non-profit educational organization whose purpose is to have a fellowship of persons who enjoy needlework and wish to learn and share their knowledge; and thereby to work towards maintaining higher standards of design, colour and workmanship.

Our aim is to preserve traditional techniques and promote new challenges in the Art of Embroidery through education and networking.

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