I spent many happy hours of research in the library of the National College of Art and Design pouring over the illustrations of the beautiful Haute Couture gowns created by designers such as Charles Fredrick Worth, Edouard Doucet and Emile Pingat.
I was always most fascinated by the story of Les Petites Mains, the artisans who worked behind the scenes, sequestered in ateliers and studios creating exquisite embellishment in embroidery, ribbon, lace, beads, sequins, feathers. I returned again and again to those books for inspiration and endeavoured to recreate some of the elements of Haute Couture embroidery in my own textile practise and I often wished that I had the opportunity to learn the skills and techniques properly.
In April 2016, I found myself sitting in the reception of École Lesage, breathless with excitement as I waited for my appointment. I was taken on a tour of the atelier and was astonished by the elaborate embroidery of the students who sat quietly absorbed in their work.
There was no doubt in my mind that I would be returning to study, the only question was when and how? So I accepted a position teaching Art in Abu Dhabi to save the money for the course and by January 2017, I was registered and had received my schedule. My studies would start in September 2017, with a preliminary course called Discovering the Lunéville Hook which would be followed by the professional training in Haute Couture Embroidery. The first week would be intense with four morning classes introducing the techniques necessary to continue on to the next level. From then on I would have three classes each week on Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 9:30 until 12:30. I could barely wait to start and needless to say, time moved very, very slowly!