A marvellous empire controlled from a sprawling bungalow in Chennai and that's the story of Vastrakala and Jean -Francois Lesage!
Vastrakala, which is Sanskrit for 'the art of textiles', was started in 1993 in Chennai by Frenchman Jean-Francois Lesage.
Jean-François Lesage a third-generation embroiderer of the Parisbased House of Lesage, which was acquired by Chanel in 2002. His father, Francois Lesage, was a famous embroiderer, whose work was sought after by the top fashion houses.
Vastrakala products are not available off the shelf. They are custom designed for demanding customers who are well-versed in luxury and do not think twice about spending on whatever brings out their individuality. Vastrakala's client roster is spangled with names of the rich and famous. Its works adorn buildings such as the 19th-century Opera de Monte Carlo in Monaco and the 17th-century Chateau Vaux le Vicomte near Paris, venue of steel magnate L.N. Mittal's daughter's wedding in 2004. Closer to home, they embellish the State Dining Room at Rashtrapati Bhavan in Delhi.
Vastrakala in Chennai with just six artisans.Then he had to invest in training, where the focus was on quality, discipline and the use of the right tools.He adds that they also learned various stitching techniques and the use of newer materials.(as reported by business today)
Earlier Jean-François Lesage used to live above the embroidery workshop he runs in an Arts and Crafts–style house in Chennai, India. As the business grew, however, space became an issue. “One day, I found myself with craftsmen embroidering just outside my bedroom door,” he recalls. “I figured it was time to move before they ended up working on my bed!”
The spiral staircase that leads from the mezzanine to the rooftop was installed by the building’s architect, Basu John; an embroidered-velvet panel remains on its original embroidery frame, the Indian model of an English villa is 19th century, a 17th-century bronze oil lamp sits atop a 19th-century table, and the mirror is a Lesage design.(excerpt from Elledecor)
His walls are mainly white, and the floors are a dark green slate from Rajasthan. There is also a certain sobriety in the choice of objects. The majority of the furnishings he surrounds himself with were acquired in India. He avows a love of portraits, collects votive temple lamps from the 17th to 19th centuries, and has a host of statuettes offered as fertility gifts at religious festivals.Many acquisitions have interesting stories attached. An armchair in the living room originally belonged to the Madras high court, which transported itself to the mountains during the sweltering summer months. “It has screws everywhere so it can be completely dismantled,” he points out. Nearby are a pair of terracotta temple statues, bought from a wellborn antiques dealer who resisted social pressures to open her own gallery, since it is taboo in the state of Tamil Nadu for women from important families to have careers.
In the courtyard, a wood cage holds Lesage’s cockatiel, Victor; the granite pillars and large-scale photograph of a Punjabi woman are both 19th century, and the Indian wood wall sculpture dates from the 18th century.
n another bedroom, the rosewood bed and wall behind it are covered with re-embroidered Indian textiles, and the 1960s lamps were designed for film shoots.
An early-20th-century English table and a 1960s rosewood chair with a pillow embroidered with a pattern inspired by Jackson Pollock in a guest room; the photographs are by Sebastian Cortés, and the drawing is by Agathe de Bailliencourt.
A cabinet in the dining room holds 18th- and 19th-century fertility figurines, a painting by Lesage’s sister, Marion, and a photograph of fashion designer
Courtesy..elledecor.com Produced by Anita Sarsidi; Photography by Richard Powers