She is such an amazing and colorful embroiderer of art ! Natacha Pons welcomes you in the bright and warm tones of autumn. Creator and designer all at the same time, she perfectly combines her marketing skills and embroidery know-how to make your dreams come true. In her special world where style becomes narration, she creates pieces with an infinite ability to customize every detail in 3 dimensions, working on four hands with the fashion designer Cyrielle Leclère. From Haute Couture to interior panels, from fashion collections to monumental sculptures and exceptional made-to-measure jewel-like garments… her art constantly beautifies the inner being engraving with love and meticulousness the precious nature of time.
Natacha was born in the South of France and spent her childhood in Nice on the French Riviera. Her mother owned an art gallery on the Promenade des Anglais and she inherited the artistic taste and “the appeal for shimmering beads and sequins”. Her father was an engineer in metallurgy, and she received from him the Cartesian structuring of thoughts. As the unique girl of the family and since her early age, she loved fashion and movement, dreaming herself as a cheerleader or a married woman wearing beautiful wedding dresses. After succeeding her scientific Bachelor’s degree, she turned to art history and then studied marketing and started a career in events and communication. “I have always mixed intuition and rational sense in my career, using a creative and visionary side that remains framed by a certain number of analytical methods and approaches.” Natacha finds this dual approach in embroidery craftmanship because it is based on extremely technical and codified gestures, and, in the same time, with an unlimited field of possibilities “since it involves bringing all types of supplies on a support, with a needle”.
In 2011, Natacha Pons left her job as a press-attaché with the desire to work on concrete projects, leading them from beginning to end. “I also wanted to create my own business, choose my clients, my service providers and live according to my values and beliefs.” She then moved towards embroidery and returned to training with a Meilleur Ouvrier de France in Haute Couture embroidery in Paris. “She welcomed me for two years and I was her only apprentice. I learned a lot in her studio.” She was provided with highly technical gestures, the knack and all reflexes of craft to embroider quickly and beautifully. Natacha responded there to her first orders, learned autonomy and developped the quality of French hands that one acquires through experience and know-how. She then worked for Haute Couture on very classic pieces with traditional colors. She also started to work on Alexandre McQueen’s collections, first in London and then in Paris during his fashion shows.
But she felt the need to complete her training with creation and she passed therefore a specific diploma of Applied Arts of the Duperré School in Paris. “It allowed me to express myself, to tell a story and to communicate a feeling through the embroidery. And since then I have been lucky to be able to do it every day.” How to move from a brief, an idea or even a set of visuals from mood boards to a concrete embroidery work? Now, she had a dual skill, which is very rare in this business.
In 2011, she met with Cyrielle Leclère, that was conducting a series of workshops at the Decorative Arts Museum of Paris during an exhibition on the work of Hussein Chalayan. Natacha followed a course of 5 ateliers to learn how to make a piece of clothing in the style of the Turkish designer. “In my idea, I wanted to embroider, but also to sew to be able to create my own pieces. I quickly realized that the two professions are complementary but very different.” Rather than trying to acquire this expertise and more, she will choose to specialize in embroidery to develop this art from a creative point of view. On the other hand, a great collaboration was born with Cyrielle, “whose artistic world was very close to mine, sensitive to storytelling opportunities.” For example, we love to zoom in on matter and microstructures: planets, leaves or Romanesco cabbage, all this ultra-geometric side of nature that each translates in its know-how. With the fashion designer, she can finally create surprising volumes and textures and fashion pieces between sculpture and jewel. Two companies were created together: P&L Studio to work with the major luxury brands, and Beau Voir for a private clientele. Each time, we have a very marked style, combining model and embroidery on textile sculptures made in a permanent creativity and with attention to detail on all type and format.
Since, Natacha Pons and Cyrielle Leclère have been composing all their pieces together, from the initial idea until delivery. We create textile ornaments for our clients who wear them in a thousand different ways: formally dressed for example on a satin dress, or offset with jeans. These pieces that we will kept a lifetime, also offer a dream and reveal some aspects of the person who wears them. We are at the antipode of the wedding dress we will wear on a given day of our life. On the contrary, the creators seek for this appropriation announced in the baseline of Beau Voir: “Embody yourself ! ”
And innovative ideas abound with their projects for major brands or an exclusive clientele, in France and abroad. “Like this giant knot made for the launch of a big perfume brand in Dubai. We did all the decoration of the launch event, and we worked on a knot principle that had to be declined from the smallest format: the pin’s worn by hostesses, to the largest: a huge structure of 8m by 6, under which the guests would move.” The most stimulating project remains the one she is working on today. “A few days ago, I received a special order, that of a young priest who wants to make his chasuble. A very graphic project, contemporary and not at all ostentatious.” Together, they made a unique piece “with a gradient that is the upward side of the faith, ranging from carmine red at the knees to white at the collar, to represent the accompaniment of the soul in this spiritual quest.”
Their workshop is located in an EPV (Living Heritage Company) of model makers, which allows them to add an additional asset to their skills. In particular, they create customized modules based on three-dimensional modeling. “Their unique know-how in terms of work on plastic, leather and all types of materials completes ours and this allows us to create contemporary works, by going out of the classic format of pearls and sequins, of the flower, the round and square. Here we can draw and embroider almost all possible!”
This offers new developments, especially in interior design. The creators launched this year their first collection of decorative panels that will be used as partitions in private residences, yachts or palaces. Like this wall panel which is intended to be placed on a black smoked mirror. We made a technical fabric with a velvet ribbon work. “Sequins of leather are put on the river, embroidered with seeds beads, flocked pearls and small rolls of cotton satin.” P&L Studio and Beau Voir are already exporting very well in Asia. They have also planned to open soon a corner in Qatar, allowing them to be closer to their customers in the Gulf countries.
Finally, the art embroiderer’s job has not changed. It is, as in its beginnings, about telling a story of the world by revealing something that is beyond, by the light that transcends existence. And Natacha Pons still responds to this call today, drawing with her daring creativity all the new ideas that will mirror this reality, to get the essence of what makes you unique and special.”
Interview held by Carine Mouradian on November 20, 2017, in Paris
“ It always starts with something which is related to dreams and even of feeling. Our customers want to get into the world of the fashion designers, through our meetings. A mundane side that brings taste and colors! But then, there is their dream and this is the most important. Create a unique piece that is a very faithful reflection of them, or of facets of their personality, and that will allow them to distinguish themselves from others. In the world of embroidery, the client is not really seeking for brilliance, but always to show its uniqueness and its difference. “Just make sure that you do not forget me, that the result will look like me! Sometimes they have no idea or particular colors or textures they would like, but together we can build everything starting from a desire or a dream. For a loving family woman for example, which is so much the case for our customers in the Gulf countries, we can ask to bring us drawings of her children that we will retranslate in a certain way on her outfits. For us, it’s very exciting because we’re in the field of intimacy, and it’s so much better than embroidering something that exists on a hanger elsewhere.
All our work is done in an artisanal way and we use the machines only to accelerate tasks that would bring no added value to the work. This is important because embroidering by hand brings a human dimension to our creations. Because the hand is never perfect, just like nature, therefore there is a certain depth that is given. This is not about imperfections, but a kind of order in the movement. When one works for example the fur of an animal in embroidery, the coat is never perfectly aligned. There will be spots like in real life, giving movement to the creations, what machines are not able to do. And we want to be the most authentic and sincere as possible, when traducing reality. Our aesthetic customers are looking indeed for this kind of excellence, not for a label on a luxury item that will be found nowadays everywhere else.
Our creations are very tactile, and there is always this privileged moment when the client asks to touch the piece of art. A collar to place on sweaters with its matching cuffs, bibs, aprons, belts, headdresses and tiaras for the hair. Each time, it’s magic because it’s an invitation to a sensory and emotional trip sensory, as a result of our joint co-creation. Each year, we present a special Beau Voir collection that serves as a prelude to these customized pieces. Each creation will then tell a story, translating the unique sensations of each client. I like when there is identification with the work. It becomes an essential gri-gri object, and we can also create real jewels with textile sculptures, working with goldsmiths and jewelers to embroider metals and precious stones. We also launched a special collection for a Chinese Haute Couture brand recently.
For me, real luxury is the attention of every moment to obtain a truly exceptional creation. This happens when all the purest codes of luxury are taken up again: beautiful materials, an exceptional know-how, the uniqueness of the creation, and we add the ultra-customization. It is also fundamentally the respect of each customer at all the stages: from the design to the manufacture of a piece. Therefore, we will use a high technicality for example, questioning ourselves from a creative and aesthetic point of view. We will also choose only noble materials, respectful of the environment and if possible local supplies. The result is really unique and acts as a mirror of the sensitive person in front of us. With the lives we are currently living, it is true that it may be difficult to be authentic all the time, but we can practice by remembering as often as possible who we are, and what values we want to carry on. It is at this price that we will finally become ourselves! I’ve read somewhere that depression is just a signal that our body emits when we’re out of sync with what we really are. Therefore, authenticity is a goal that we follow respecting a course of action that we have chosen in terms of values. I try to do it on a daily basis and we will take stock in a few years. An aspect of my job that I love, are these true moments where we get to know a client or enter the world of a brand. We feel so much empathy, like a strength that springs forth, in a very natural and simple way.”
Interview held by Carine Mouradian on November 20, 2017, in Paris