I have a genuine love of things beautifully made of fine materials with the delicate touch of an artisan. A few years ago, we ventured to import these “Elegant Gifts & Simple Pleasures” from France. With big plans and great excitement, we sought out artisans in Paris and beyond – jewelers who created colorful ceramic and metal necklaces and bracelets, leather makers who created finely tooled journals and appointment books.
At L’Ateliers d’Art de France, we discovered the exceptional color and creativity of Bernard Serra, a master of passementerie who produces his work as “Prince du Sud”. We couldn’t resist the refined clutches in vibrant colors with the kind of workmanship that lasts through generations. Naturally, I had to keep one myself; and though I carry it to add a touch of stylish color to my outfit, I could as easily frame it on the wall to appreciate day in and day out….but, it looks so good in my hand!
Actually, when one thinks of this art style – passementerie, old fashioned comes to mind. Essentially, it is the art of intricate trimmings or edgings (“passements” in French) of braid, gold or silver cord, embroidery, colorful silk or beads for clothing and home furnishings. As a matter of interest, the Guild of Passementiers was created in France in the 16th century. Seven years of apprenticeship was required to become a master. The tassel was a dominant product, but fringes ornamental cords, pompons and rosettes also were expressions of the art. The use of passementerie in clothing was long reserved for aristocrats, royalty, religious and military elite.
With an interest in the era of courtesans, Monsieur Serra revives the art and refreshes the style to create textiles that are beautiful to see, touch and adore. He is devoted to artisanal work of world-class quality. That comes as no surprise, in that this artist has worked in the textile art trade with prolonged exposure to the Parisian designers Christian Lacroix, Montana, Guy Laroche and Nina Ricci.
Today, he breathes new life into the old art, as a passementerie specialist for a house that regularly supplies the large couture houses in Paris. Prince du Sud works from an old, renovated bookshop in the 6th arrondissement and collaborates with fashion and interior designers, as well as individuals, to provide his intricate, corded products, all created by hand with ancestral techniques.
His line includes bags, belts, small clutches, key rings and objects of decoration. He often enhances his designs with pearls, sequins, feathers and spangles. And he creates custom pieces for clients, who choose from 90 fabulous colors and unlimited imagination. Oh my – would I love to take advantage of that service!
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