Le vieil homme est mort aujourd hui (“The old man died today”), Gerard Tremolet explains in French. He releases a wistful, melancholy hum. It’s a coincidence that we’ve made an appointment to speak by phone on this December morning when, he says, “the whole world is calling me.”
But we need not postpone our conversation, he suggests. For him, this is a day in which past and future, old and the new are sentimentally intertwined.
As Tremolet sits in the Normandy parlor that he’s decorated in a dashing mash-up of Versailles and Shanghai styles, he recalls the old man in question: François Lesage, the 82-year-old embroidery artisan and impresario, dressmaker to Dietrich, consummate craftsman. The Lesage family’s fabled Paris embroidery atelier was the oldest in France, responsible for the exquisite hand-sewn beadwork on extravagant couture dresses from Schiaparelli, Balenciaga, and Saint Laurent among others.