Only a handful of workshops specialized in bespoke textile finishing remain in France, and Atelier Dynale, French Living Heritage certified since 2013, is one of these. Season after season, couture brands call on the Atelier’s unique raw material creations.
Organza fur, liquid gold-coated leathers and lace in metal armor: clients come to Atelier Dynale for inspiration and for the impossible: fabrics that take on the colors of time, cut in the rays of the moon or the dust of the sun. They have been coming to the atelier since 1992, when Alexandre Leu and his wife Céline Sorigué took over the “boutique”, but there were visits long before; in the 70s, Alexander’s mother established Atelier Dynale, which was specialized in painting on silk. Going back even further, 1917 was the year Jeanne Fayolle, his great aunt and head seamstress at Dior, and then director at Saint Laurent, started out her career.
The atelier is an uplifting example of the transmission and application of textile knowhow: far from the techniques used in the industrial sector, Leu and Sorigué refine exceptional fabrics only by hand and piece by piece for the couture sector, but also for decorative arts under the Céline Alexandre brand (interior decoration, textile art editions…). They don’t ruche and they don’t embroider, but they do nearly everything else under the sun, and above all, techniques that have never been done anywhere else.
Creative studio x lab
“The workshop was built around color, my mother’s coloring techniques to be precise and in particular filled settings, which consist of working the fabric as you would a stained glass window,” explains Alexandre Leu. “Since then, our field of exploration has widened: screen printing, airbrushing, calligraphy, embossing, burnaway, moiré, applying gold and silver leaf, and always with the dual objective of offering radically new creations, but which nevertheless meet the constraints of patterns and durability. We mustn’t forget that these are mainly pieces that aren’t intended to be exhibited, but rather to be assembled, worn, and even washed.”
The pure dyeing and painting techniques are interwoven with the gestures of an artist—engraver and sculptor—so as to work the color into the material itself. Materials (silks, weaves, meshes, and skins), sometimes produced to order, will be grained, crackled, crumbled, shaped, patterned, and burned away, in order to multiply the effects, be they raw or precious. “We spray leather, engrave satins with a hot point, coat fibers with resin… for certain items we can go through more than 40 finishing operations to obtain the desired results,” explains Leu. “In fact, we’re not reproducing a particular gesture, but rather researching, experimenting and crossing different techniques: we sculpt velvet fiber by fiber, burn away, screen print, paint and patinate, before applying motifs in copper or palladium foil… We revisit old techniques, such as shibori on a brocade of gold threads (editor’s note: a manual resist dying technique using binding), we commandeer others, and we invent new ones.”
Atelier Dynale’s order books include the biggest names in fashion: from Dior to Chanel, along with Louis Vuitton, Givenchy, Jean Paul Gaultier and Marc Jacobs. And prestige names call on the Céline Alexandre label as well: “For the Raffles Hotel in Shenzhen, we created triptychs on handpainted silk that are used as headboards, while for the Royal Atlantis in Dubai we’re finalizing laminated glass partitions that encapsulate tulle set with sequins. We’ve also used our gradient techniques on curtains, draperies and various furnishing fabrics for mansions, yachts and private planes. Color is an emotion, first and foremost.”
Leu and Sorigué are also called on to create backdrops for luxury brands’ window dressings: “For Chanel for example, we worked on faux leather with gold leaf on motifs of branches and birds that appear or disappear depending on the viewing angle.” Gold, the couple’s material of choice, also finds its place in Céline Alexandre’s Hors Normes collection: a production of art rugs with kinetic, organic and geographical motifs into which felts are decorated in yellow and white gold (from 12 to 22 carats) and frozen in resin. “Felt is an extraordinary material to work with and it’s a lot of fun to combine it with a precious material, such as gold. The very design of these pieces tends to merge the notions of walls and floor. Isn’t it a wonderfully unique experience to walk on gold?
Published in Formes de Luxe Spring 2020