She looks so much like Sheherazade: feminine, sensual and daring, with a clever mix of sweetness, humor and straight talk that both amaze and subjugate. Then you enter the intimacy of his workshop in Arras. It is here that Sylvie Facon creates her 1001 dresses, the most beautiful, to dress her clients or her shows of her enchanting and poetic universe. With a style of which only she knows the secret and, like a painter on her canvas, she uses her imagination and frees creative gestures to dare incredible works. As in the tale, her richness of heart amazes us and this look on each woman, which reveals their inner beauty and communicates joy.
“I didn’t have a positive childhood experience. My parents were elderly, from a modest background and I am the youngest of four siblings.” Her father, a mobile policeman, was often on the move, and her mother was harsh for them as she had sacrificed her beauty and intelligence for a family life. The sensitive girl she was will be marked by this lack of harmony. She will find refuge in the family garden, her corner of nature, where she will escape and draw all day long. “We had an encyclopedia “All the universe” and I remember, when I was a child, I used to stay for hours contemplating the sketches of historical costumes.” After an uneventful school, her parents will encourage her to choose rather intellectual studies. For my graduating class, I hesitated between Philosophy or Art, but the second option was improbable as my parents could not afford to pay the fees for a private school. Her studies will be disrupted by a romantic encounter. At the age of 17, Sylvie Facon will leave her family to live with her student boyfriend, and she will start working to pay the household expenses. “I loved painting and started giving silk painting lessons in associations.” Then, she went back to study, in the Beaux-Arts this time, and obtained a diploma of letter-painter. A home of Arras for Young Female Workers will offer her a job in the social management as a facilitator for creative workshops. She was only 20 years old. There, she will brilliantly pass an equivalent of the bachelor’s degree, then the entrance examination to the IUT and three years later, she will obtain her DUT in Social Careers.
“Then I expressed the desire to evolve” and she will obtain a National Diploma in Animation Functions, thus fully expressing her leadership qualities and organizational skills. In her daily work, Sylvie will do wonders helping and mobilizing fragile people around vibrant, enthusiastic and active projects. She will join the celebration of year-round festivals and events dressing the young ladies to enjoy a moment of happiness and warmth. This is where she started to sew, “and I wanted to improve myself and do more than better each year, so I definitely got into it.” In her spare time, she will start to embroidering sophisticated pieces and it became a passion.
“One day, an old lady who was part of the Executive Committee, and who had been in the past a Haute Couture workshop elf, offered me some training, because she was amazed by the beauty of the shows without any technical knowledge.” Sylvie will learn some basic techniques with her, such as cutting a garment in the right line or put a bias to avoid the twist. And with her insatiable curiosity, she will go even further, learning and practicing by herself. “It was above all her confidence and his eyes that I needed, and it helped me to gain confidence and think of a new professional path.” Circumstances will help her too, and in 2008, after nearly 30 years in social animation, Sylvie Facon will decide to set up to her own business.
The talented stylist had already been noticed at a local level during all these years of practice. She accompanied a theater troupe to make their costumes and friends of hers for their wedding dresses. One day, the city of Arras asked her to dress a laureate of a prestigious national contest. “I was given carte blanche to create a dress that symbolizes the country of Artois, and I immediately said yes.” The result was impressive: a red and blue dress with lily flowers and, hand painted, the Houses of Places on a corselet, then the skirt and a wreath of wheat. Her creation will win the prize in the first conquest for the best local costume of France, with Christian Gasc, a famous costumier. This was in 1998 and Sylvie Facon will gain an important media coverage.
“This inspired me to satisfy a secret yearning: do a dress like a master painting.” She will compose Les Baigneuses, in a Pre-Raphaelite style, in green tones with nymphs painted on a pond and undergrowth setting. “I still work in the same way today, by assembling the dress like on a canvas where the fabrics become colors. Here, a fusion of blue for the water and green for the skirt, with silk painting of some parts, then a delicate addition of golden fabric for the sunbeam.” A real work of art! The final result is a central design and everything else radiated in color by the direct joining of the materials. The success is immediate. “The curator who saw my work asked me to organize a show in the museum. That evening, Sylvie will meet the lace-maker Jean Bracq, who will become a friend. “Since that day and thanks to this encounter, I turned to do only dresses using the delicacy of Caudry’s lace.” In 2008, Sylvie Facon will start her own business and quickly installed her workshop in the Robespierre House in Arras, where she will practice from 2011 to 2015, before moving to the current address, rue du Presbytère Sainte Croix.
First, she does tailor-made dresses for her clients, creating around their feminine forms, with a great listening to their wishes. And she manages every project from start to finish, with a unique creative approach that makes all the difference. “I build the corset bases with illusion tulles. It thus makes a molding of the body by adapting itself completely to each morphology. My objective is to highlight my clients’ assets that could be physical, but also their personality, and so make them even more beautiful.” Sylvie Facon is a hard worker and she spends the rest of her time painting her personal creations with pieces that take sometimes 300 hours of work on two to three weeks each. The dress becomes a pretext, a vehicle of communication, that leaves room to imagination and poetic sensitivity, in a style very similar to steampunk fashion.
“It’s like a dream, with timeless dresses worn by ideal women and each have a different personality.” The talented stylist and designer likes also to reveal the aesthetics of everyday objects. She created a dress “Tribute to violin”, or “Tribute to books” with covers of manuscripts in a masterful dress of 40 meters of width at the bottom, or “Tribute to the time”, made in just a few days with a sundial under the skirt, an hourglass, cogs and needles in the back, or to the nature, according to her inspiration like the “vegetable dress” or that in straw and lace. Soon, the artist also plans to create a “porcelain dress” to pay tribute to the Bleu d’Arras. Two books on her work have already been published: “Fil, rêves & volupté” and et “La vie rêvée des robes”. A third one is planned in 2019. She will also collaborate this year with international customers: an Irish, Californian, a New Yorker and an Englishwoman. Finally, a trip is planned to Iran to teach for a week at a prestigious Haute-Couture School. “I do not foresee anything and I let myself go with the flow!”
It is a fine philosophy that reflects the integrity and values of transparency, commitment and courage that it embodies. Sylvie Facon really has everything about this popular heroine who uses her imagination, her human qualities and her talent to bring dreams to others. His shows are striking in beauty and truth. A captivating storyteller of textile creations, she also reveals herself as a painter of works of art, to release energies and soften hearts. A shooting star whose story will continue for long days and nights!
Interview held by Carine Mouradian at Arras on December 1, 2018
Link to the website of Sylvie Facon
“The real luxury is to have the privilege of living off one’s passion and to be able to create everyday pieces, but also the outlines of one’s profession. We then have immense freedom to become more and more ourselves, by what we are and what we do; the two being connected. For me, textile creation is above all a personal story and a solitary pleasure. In fact, I was looking for a way of expression like a painter is looking for a canvas, and I found so much richer with the body of the woman and so much more stimulating because it is in three dimensions, with relief and never the same. So I work with challenges to overcome and succeed, finding creative solutions every time.
The path to oneself is exciting and evolutionary, and one must also accept that one does not understand everything or want to control everything. An example when I feel it obvious to go from one matter to another without knowing why, or that one matter gives rise to another. As I do this instinctively, I am unable to explain my style or my way of doing things that sometimes surpasses me. And it’s very frustrating for me not to know how to define my signature. So I observe and see that the public is delighted without knowing why; i am even surprised at times, but i have also come to accept it. They talk about that part of the dream. It’s true that a dress for me carries a message, and first tells a story. That may be the point.
My goal is to make women even more beautiful than they already are. In fact, there is no ideal stereotype of woman for me, because they are all very beautiful, as well as different. When I make a dress for a person – in fact, around that person, his morphology and his project, it is therefore a dress that will look like him. She doesn’t fit into a character. She becomes herself. This summer, I had the joy of accompanying a client to her wedding and I saw her transform during our appointments, revealing her inner beauty that she hid as a protection, and daring to become more and more herself physically. How emotional that day was for her and her loved ones, her future husband! It is therefore a question of being true, as much as possible, for this great day which seals the hope of love for a life. That’s why I’m very grateful for those who come to my home, because it’s a great mark of confidence to tell a stylist about such an important project in their lives.
Painting dresses are different. This is a special moment I want to create. It’s not about embellishing life or being in a fairy tale, but in the poetic and fairy universe that is mine, with a luminous, ultra feminine and romantic atmosphere. It’s like looking at a painting; you escape, you enter a sensory experience where you can contemplate beauty: the curves of a woman, dressed in beautiful dresses. So I’m going to make things aesthetically beautiful, it’s true, by spending hours there, with my hyper-perfectionist temperament. For themes, it is always something that will inspire me: an object like the violin, a material like porcelain, or an atmosphere like a wheat field. The straw and lace dress came like this. I had such a beautiful feeling of serenity during the summer and I translated it into a dress to mark this moment of eternity, well-being and simplicity. As if I were freezing this moment, this impression in a dress, which will not be for sale, but will be a model exhibition. As a result, there are fewer constraints and it is really a pictorial dress, a portable painting in parade and which serves me as a communication tool.
Another point, the models who are always the same and have become girlfriends. They are ordinary women who march gracefully and with a smile, because the one who wears the dress is as important as the room. A standard body is needed; that she is pretty but not dazzling either, that she has an elegant way to make the dress move and that is enough, because beauty of a woman is also in what she exudes. These are shows, real moments of sharing, joy and celebration, with dresses that travel and exhibit everywhere in France. Last year, a selection of thirty of my dresses on the theme of nature were exhibited at the Caudry lace museum and this year, it will be in partnership with other designers at the Calais lace museum.
In conclusion, it is always the whole that makes the authenticity. A beautiful offer with a beautiful dress, worn by a beautiful woman with a smile, and guests who let themselves be carried by the show of which I would be the painter, with dresses paintings that tell a story. This profession is really my tree where I shelter, my outlet. There is no better anchor!”
Interview held by Carine Mouradian on December 1, 2018
Link to the website of Sylvie Facon