Thursday, October 10, 2013

Declereq Passementiers - My Favorite Paris Discovery

While in Paris this summer, I discovered that I loved the stores that still retained their 19th century interiors.  The old world look was evident in many of the ancient establishments - from my favorite cheese shop to Laudree (if you ever have a chance to eat their macaroons - do it).  I managed to find a wonderful book (in English) that had these jewel box stores listed by arrondissement and quickly set out to visit as many of the interesting ones as I could.

One that stood out was Declercq Passementiers!  They are on their 6th generation of this illustrious family of hand made silk trims.  Since the 1850s they have been making silk gimps, striped silk gimps, silk rococos, silk braids, silk wrapped purls and silk wrapped parchments... and then turning them into mind blowing tassels with old looms and needlewomen.

One of the great things about their English website is the glossary of terms.  The term in French is shown in drawings.  What a great resource.

The storefront, located just off the subway stop Etienne Marcel at 15 rue Etienne Marcel, 75001 Paris is
opened by ringing the doorbell.  Just inside are the displays of almost a hundred silk tassels that are over 12 inches long (that doesn't include the rope!) and are worth around 1000-2000 euros each.  It is all you can do not to pet them like a beloved dog.

The showroom doesn't stop there, it gets much better.  As you move towards the middle, you note the seating area that is trimmed, as you might believe, with their own silk gimp trims.  Beautiful.  But what is more exciting is the small TV that is running videos showing the threads, trims, and tassels being made!  I must have watched them for over fifteen minutes trying to remember all the details of the craftsmanship.

Beyond this, half the store is actually a museum of the best trims, tassels and ornaments from the time of Napoleon to today.  There are mind blowing threads in these pieces as well as techniques that are straight out of the 17th century embroidery we all love.  It is clear that the trim makers of the 17th century were very close to the professional embroiderers, the boundaries are so transparent between them.  While I was in Paris, I had been working on many threads with the craftspeople in Europe that we are using for the Part II Stumpwork class and so I recognized so many techniques that we were replicating.   One of them, striped silk gimp, is used frequently on the larger gimps of the trim maker.  If you look at the woven and braided trim on the left, you can see a dark/light pink striped gimp in the trim.  This, in smaller scale, was used all over the grottos in the stumpwork.

Another item that is used is silk wrapped parchment to make little floral elements that can be stitched onto pieces or stacked on small tassels to make little elements that go onto larger tassels.  They make these striped as well!  And I haven't even started to talk about the hand embroidery on the heads which you can see below in some close up pictures.  One picture is of the twisted cord for the hanger.  It is made up of multiple gimps, some of which are also striped.  I see these types of details on stumpwork pieces and so it excites me to see these types of amazing threads being made for this artisan business.  While I developed a great raport with the owners that day and explored the possibility that they would make items for our work, it was interesting to find out that they specialize in making these threads in short lengths, long enough for their pieces but not long enough to be called production.  The video showed the gimps being made in three to five yard lengths.  This was perfect for their business as the customer can have many choices of color combinations for their decor.  Each item is truly custom handmade!  But it was like looking into the past.

I had to have some of these.  I won't tell you what I spent, but I should frame the tassel! (shhh - my husband might be reading).  The details are of one that I purchased.

One amazing thing is that they bring their craftspeople into the store a few times a year (write or call to find out when!) to work in front of the public.  The embroiderers will allow you to sit with them and watch.  It has become pretty popular and so they produce a set of tassel kits called "Grand-Clef a monter soi-meme".  They come in four colors and the kit is filled with elements that are already partially made.  The kits were for visitors to use while they sat and watched but can also be purchased for making at home.  So if you go inside, be sure to ask about the kit.  It is about 30-40 euros and is a great souvenir of the store and will make you feel better about ringing the bell to enjoy the place!
Go and enjoy and tell them that I said Hi.  Wonderful people keeping a craft alive!



  1. Would love the title of the book you purchased that listed those jewel box shops! I consider Paris a second home and I'm always looking for books pointing out more esoteric sites. I have a wonderful book about the Passage Couverts, for example, that I spent a couple of days exploring on my last trip.

  2. Oh My Goodness!!! Is there ANY way that you could carry these kits or some of these trims in the shop? They are beyond the beyond! Even if you can't, than you for sharing this with us...I don't know if I'll ever make it to Paris, but you've now given me even more reasons to 'just make it happen'!

  3. Sounds like we need some of these kits in the proposed sweet bag class so we can make fancy tassels (hint, hint!)