Cité de la Dentelle et de la Mode
Hello Pierre, Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
My name is Pierre Weymeesch, I have been working at the Calais Lace & Fashion Museum for 9 years. Lace making is a long family tradition. My great grandfather was a teacher at the Institut Jacquard in Calais. My grandfather, my father and I became tulle makers.
At 13 and half years old, I went to the Institut Jacquard where I earned by CAP degree after 3 years. When I left school, I worked for the Darquer factory until it closed and for the past 9 years I have worked at the Lace Museum. I arrived 2 years before the museum opened to put the machines back into working order so that they could be shown to the public.
What do you enjoy most about your profession?
Lace is a passion, and you cannot work with lace if you don’t love it. It’s impossible. It’s a complicated profession that requires many years of apprenticeship before gaining the proper experience and mastering the machines. It’s a profession where the machines remain entirely mechanical and these “old ladies”, as I like to call them, require a lot of attention and care.
What I like the most is that it’s a job that is never the same because with the same machines we create different patterns, different products like lingerie or dresses. I was born into the world of lace and I love my job and am proud today to be able to show this skill to the public visiting the museum.
What is produced today with Calais lace?
In Calais today, we make more lingerie than Haute Couture. We turn out around 70% lingerie and 30% dresses. In Caudry, where they also produce lace with the same leaver loom processes, more dresses are made.
How many different lace makers are needed to produce Calais lace?
To make a finished product, there are 25 different trades, which bring together about sixty different professions such as sketch production, cardboard milling, tapering, etc.
What raw materials are used to make lace?
There are two different categories of raw materials that are used: natural materials and synthetic materials. Traditionally, natural materials like wool, linen, silk and cotton are used.
Materials and styles change and now we use synthetic materials more and more, like spandex, viscose, and rayon fabric. Today these natural and synthetic materials can be found in the creations of all the major fashion houses.
So you could say that Calais lace is today at the heart of fashion?
You could say that. A little while ago we had the chance to collaborate with a Belgian school, La Cambre, an arts and design school that used our leaver loom professionals to test innovative materials that we still had not worked with like nylon, stainless steel and copper.
It was a very interesting and fulfilling experience because it resulted in the creation of a new type of lace, which might be used by future creators.
Lace is at the heart of fashion. Lace is still appealing with traditional models, but it can also change and appeal to young designers.