See, in the rue de la Cathedral of Our Lady of Le Puy-en-Velay, a woman bent over her square of bobbin lace could give a scent of yesteryear to this ancestral know-how. But that's without counting on the creativity and innovation of enthusiasts who constantly reinvent it to make lace a resolutely living art.

Meeting with Adélaïde Albouy-Kissi, lecturer in applied computer science at the University of Clermont (on the left), Julie Agrain, lacemaker, graduate in textile design at the ESAD in Orléans (in the center) and Rolland Arnaud, director of Fontanille Scop (right). Interview.

First, let's go back in time. What characterizes Puy-en-Velay lace?

Julia: Haute-Loire has three main types of lace: “Torchon” and “Cluny” lace found in Puy-en-Velay and Craponne-sur-Arzon lace. Le Puy lace is characterized by the point d'esprit: Gothic styles with warhead motifs, rosettes and an absence of knots.

Who were the lacemakers? How has the profession evolved?

Julie : Originally, it was a lot of blessed people (whose mission was to educate children and teach religion). Then the farmers' wives took over. In 1860, lace supported half the population. The profession then became rare with the war, with women having to work in the fields.

Roland Arnaud : We then moved from squares to mechanical lace. 30 years ago at Fontanille, we had 300 bobbin looms for 30 people who worked lace. Today, there are 60 trades for five people. And yet there is a revival, a potential market for this rare product. It is a dying profession. Our work is therefore to transmit and lift this tradition of secrecy.

Why do we speak of a tradition of secrecy?

Julie : As the lacemakers were really afraid of competition, they had their own design and carton. Besides, the tradition of secrecy still persists: all this know-how is quite scattered. People secretly keep the lace at home and in the end we have few collections. Today, there is no more competition, it is mainly leisure. However, it is difficult to learn the gesture for an outside person. This gesture remains transmitted from generation to generation and in an oral culture.

Your challenge: Reveal the gesture of the lacemaker digitally?

Roland Arnaud : Yes always ! We want to bring lace into industry 4.0 with computer-aided design, open up to new professions and shine internationally.

Once upon a time… the Cinderella Ponote shoe

Adelaïde, full of imagination, one day launched a challenge to her team of designers: “What would the shoe of the Cendrillon Ponote be like if she tripped over the cobblestones of the upper town? A shoe was born to make all fashionistas pale: the lace is worked with Swarovski crystals to recall the Le Puy Green Lentil and crossed by a loop made in 3D printing from gelled verbena! A whole art worked with the Le Puy Lace Education Center, lacemakers from the Couleurs Dentelle workshop in Brioude and local artisans.

Lace is also invited on the walls, in Craponne-sur-Arzon

Lace is also being reinvented in a street art version on a wall in the village of Craponne-sur-Arzon, also known for its lace-making heritage. It is perched on top of a machine and equipped with spray paint that the Polish artist Nes Poon has just produced a fresco inspired by lace patterns.

Was this content useful to you?