Behind the exceptional craftsman, there is an entrepreneur full of daring and benevolence. And his story is like an adventure with for sole point of reference his thirst for learning, to excel always and help his staff to go as far as possible. It is in Limoges, his adopted city, that Bernard Blaizeau learned all the secrets of sewing, including the art of flou (soft dressmaking); these meticulous gestures, repeated indefinitely, in order to acquire a know-how coupled with a know-how-to see, thereby attracting all the great Parisian fashion houses. Away from the spotlight, extraordinary dresses are entrusted to him each season, to be magnified to the extreme until absolute delight. A luxury that is now accessible thanks to Lou Kasatché …
Destined to be a gardener
“Nothing presaged my becoming a dressmaker!” Bernard Blaizeau was born in Saint-Hilaire-de-Voust in Vendée, in a modest family, and his parents were simple workers. “They taught me sharing and I grew up with this idea: that all the love that was not given was lost.” Second of a family of four children, he neglected school, preferring to run around in the woods and live in contact with nature. He then turned to gardener studies, and worked his first years in plant nursery, then in forestry. But the adventure of his life began when he found himself without money, in a lost corner of the Aveyron. I was 24 years old and I had just met a girl who was a seamstress. Needing to work, I went to her factory in Brusque, near Saint-Affrique (the factory produced blue jeans for Lee Cooper). To his absolute amazement, he was hired the same day as a driver and delivery man, but his first delivery to Lodeve and Nimes, will last forever. “I returned at night, certain to be fired. But to my surprise, the company manager shook my hand and offered me to stay in a different position.” This is how Bernard Blaizeau entered the sewing business.
Learning to sew
“I first learned to cut pants and sort them.” With his natural, open-minded curiosity, Bernard Blaizeau spent time on each station to learn how to bend, iron, sew, first on automatic machines, then on real sewing machines. But the company he was working for, experienced difficulties. One day; a potential buyer, Mr Palous, asked his boss: “Who is this boy who unloads the truck, then is found stitching with the machine?” He then proposed to follow him, to be trained in his large workshop at Villefranche du Rouergue, specialized in uniforms for the administration. Bernard will stay there for 5 years, learning how to make trellis, the clothes of factors or firemen. “I started setting up a network within the dressmakers. One day, an Italian Gianni, who worked for Macpi and Investronica, proposed to me to go to Limoges, in a famous factory of France, who made men’s suits.” Out of curiosity, he will go there. A new professional offer is made to him, that he will accept by moving with his wife, to settle in the Limousin. “It was a thousand-person workshop that made 2,500 jackets and 3,000 pants a day. I stayed there for 13 years; and these people taught me how to use all these tools and everything that serves me daily to work now. I owe them everything!”
But in the 1990s, the textile and clothing industries was severely affected with regard to offshoring in Morocco, in the eastern countries, then in China, the layoffs were impressive, and the disappearance of these great tools inescapable, because difficult to transform. “Once I became convinced that it was over, I wanted to start preparing for the future. I instinctively perceived that the only way to survive was to bet on quality.” Bernard Blaizeau then found C2000, a very fine thirty-people sewing workshop in Limoges, who worked for the prestigious haute couture houses. With humility and passion, he managed to convince the leader of “his will to grow this rough diamond”. After a year and a half to raise the funds, he became, in 2004, the managing Director. The beginning of a wonderful new adventure!
The love of flou art
“This is where I discovered the blur, this unusual technique that is really part of French heritage.” A philosophy also, that has been developed with the designer Madeleine Vionnet. The molding is done directly on the model, to create evening dresses with the least possible seam, and with a style that highlight the shapes with a perfect fit and balance drop. “If I had to summarize it is simply to ornament and bedeck with fabric the shapes of a woman. And I fall in love with it!” All this delicacy, this sweetness but also an artistic and technical approach where one shows an excellent dexterity, patience and care. We use the finest fabrics, mainly soft materials such as silk, chiffon, veil and organza. And it is a real alliance, working with prestigious fashion houses, because they know their spirit behind each creation. “I also loved the sharing mind and the culture of diversity that was present in the community of C2000 and that made us live together in harmony. We are 46 artisans today from all over the world!” All are passionate about soft dressmaking and fashion, and experts in pleating and embroidery. A know-how that gives them the recognition of the great couture houses of avenues Montaigne and François 1er. “At this moment, we are in full preparation of the Fashion week. And we are proud to accompany them, even if we are only one an intermediate link in this long chain that reaches its climax at the fashion show.” But the fairy-fingered manager loves above all to do things. And he made extraordinary dresses, like this great dress, white and black, which required 80 meters of tulle and nearly 400 hours of work. “My greatest joy was to know it was sold; so I had the pleasure to make it again 5 times!”
Lou Kasatché and the excellence of Limousin
Lou Kasatché, the fashion house, arrived to maintain the activity all year round and share this know-how by co-creating directly with the clients. This project was born of a collective will to create a sustainable model that develops internal skills and brings motivation and pride. The brand was launched in 2009 and the show opened its doors, boulevard de Fleurus, in 2013. “Modestly, at our level, we wanted to find this atmosphere of yesteryear, a bubble of sweetness in our fast-paced world.” Fluid trousers and skirts, silk blouses, cocktail trimmings and wedding dresses are made to measure, with the finest materials. “We buy fabric in France but we also work a lot with Italians, Scots and English, to have the best quality.” The seamstresses also fashion the same 3 mm French seam, the same handkerchief hem as those made for high-fashion houses. At the end, all the models are unique and rare, satisfying the smallest need of the customer. “Our only goal is for every woman to feel herself in her dress.”
As for the founder: Louise Kasatché, whom everyone here calls Lou, no one has ever seen her, but her free and generous spirit reigns over the house. “With her multicultural background, she is the quintessence of the C2000 community of work.” An unlimited imagination and a great audacity to revive a modern couture, which updates the values of yesteryear bringing proximity, attention and kindness. In the workshop, which is full of soft and vaporous fabrics, between silk, lace, crepe or cotton poplin, little hands are even preparing in secret, a new collection dedicated to their brand, which will arrive in 2019: “a line of well-cut clothing that will reveal the modern woman, in all elegance.”
Bernard Blaizeau continues to cultivate his projects, pursuing his star; the one that led him to sewing and to be today the guardian of a living heritage and the ambassador of Limousin with the association Luxury & Excellence. And if his secret was in his gaze? Scanning the curves of a valley, to draw an alley and design a garden; then in the same way, contemplating the lines of a fabric to magnify the curves of a woman. This conveys a marvelous artistic emotion which the artist shares.
Interview held by Carine Mouradian on February 15, 2018, in Limoges
Link to the website of Lou Kasatché and Luxe & Excellence