The UAE's Alliance Française will run a series of embroidery workshops in Abu Dhabi. Here's a guide on the creative classes on offer.
Elisabeth Roulleau brings threads of haute couture to the capital
The Alliance Française in Abu Dhabi, in association with the Chalhoub Group, is bringing the professional embroiderer Elisabeth Roulleau to the Emirates this month. Two workshops will be held in the capital at Cafe Arabia on 15th street, focusing on traditional and haute couture embroidery techniques.
Roulleau’s formal training and designer back catalogue is pro-digious. She studied at an art school in Lesage, Paris, before passing on her skills to students at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Lyon. Her handiwork has adorned couture pieces and catwalk collections for the likes of Dior, Chanel and Azzaro.
“I also had the opportunity to make prototypes for Hermès,” says Roulleau. “They asked me to use metallic threads of gold and silver while working on cashmere and leather. I would also use beautiful feathers with different coloured threads.”
A stitch in time
Roulleau’s workshop in Abu Dhabi has two packages on offer.
In Monday’s silk ribbon class, attendees will be taught to create flowers of different sizes, from delicate buds to heavy-headed roses and stylised blooms. The class will run from 9am to 4pm and costs Dh250 for members and Dh300 for non-members.
From Tuesday to Thursday, fashion workshops will be staged with Roulleau taking students through the rudiments of bespoke embroidery – starting with the stretching of silk organza to fit their work-frames. She will then cover how to perfect a “chain stitch” and use tools of the trade, from Luneville hooks to yarn gloves. The workshops will run from 9am to 4pm and cost Dh700 for members and Dh750 for non-members.
Getting a bit precious
Sessions on Wednesday will concentrate mainly on the laying of pearls, sequins and vermicelli beads onto fabric. If you have aspirations of embellishing your own garments but don’t know coloured cotton from metallised gimp, this is the class for you.
Thursday, the final day of the haute couture series, will bring all the skills you’ve honed together, culminating in the production of a flower-motif workpiece.
If you can’t make it to one of the ateliers then try to stop by for the free interactive session Roulleau will be hosting on Wednesday from 5.30 to 6.30pm. She’ll be joined by the Emirati designer Khulood Thani and a representative from Esmod to debate the topic of Crossed Perspectives: Styling Between East and West.
Sew much for stereotypes
While Roulleau’s professional pedigree is impressive, she’ll provide instruction – in English and French – for all level of enthusiasts. Her courses are suitable for beginners with curiosity about how to embellish their own clothes to trained couturiers looking to perfect fine needlework.
“It is totally magic and just like learning a new language,” says Roulleau.
“It’s not just for ladies either,” she adds. “Of course, generally embroidery is done by women, but my first student was a man and he was a priest. In India and Pakistan, all the embroiders are men, too.
“Last year I worked for a young male designer called Didit Hediprasetyo. He was my student when I was a teacher at the Parsons School in Paris and he asked me to produce a skirt with white peacock feathers. It ended up being the wedding dress for the final show, which was a nice feeling.”
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