Get your guide books out, beaders! Today we’re going on a trip to delicious and luxurious France. As the world’s largest producer of wine, and Europe’s top agricultural center, the French countryside provides a wealth of beautiful scenery. Add to that the historic beauty of Paris, it’s modern works of art and architecture, long traditions in opera and ballet, and France is nothing short of a feast for the senses.
Being so near to some of the world’s most important bead manufacturing sites, it’s no wonder that France has a long and glorious history with jewelry design and beadwork. Although the beads and techniques for what we know as French beaded flowers were probably developed in Italy, it was French women who made the style popular. Seamstresses would collect culled beads from their employers elaborate custom gowns, and used them to make beautiful faux bouquets. The technique gained even more popularity during the Victorian mourning period, when cut flowers were replaced with durable beaded facsimiles. Today, rare 24/o French seed beads are coveted by beaders and collectors alike.
France is known for many wonderful things, including fine food and finer fashion. The French term haute couture means “high sewing” or simply “high fashion”, and describes the practice of creating elaborate, one of a kind, custom fit clothing. The immortal fashion icon Coco Chanel lived and worked on Rue Cambon in Paris, where she invented the little black dress. She was also the first designer to combine precious metals and gemstones with glass to create costume jewelry for the upper class, paving the way for the immense popularity of faux components like Swarovski crystals.
Happy beading, France!
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