Carole Tessier: Intersecting Craftsmanship And The French Art De Vivre
How Carole Tessier, textile aficionado, owner of ultra-luxe brand Preciously Paris, and mother to nine children, is upholding the artisanal skills of the local Firenze region.
Made from the finest cloth in Firenze by a team of dedicated master art embroiderers, Carole Tessier’s exclusive line of handmade, embroidered clutches are just as extraordinary and wondrous as the designer herself.
Tessier’s designs reflect her incredible eye for quality, elegance and sophistication. The pieces are each sold as unique one-off bespoke pieces worthy of their painstaking 20- to 30-hour artisanship. Graphically, Tessier’s clutches exhibit complex geometric patterns, drawing from such landmarks as the floor mosaic of Saint Mark’s Basilica, as well as reinterpretations of the 18th-century engravings of Romulus and Remus, and everything in between. The clutches are so beautifully designed that they are just as suitable as wall-mounted art. Tessier describes the esthetic of her hand-held art as follows: “I think we feel the craftsmanship through the embroidery. We don’t know if this embroidery came from two or 50 years ago. Some of the last ones [clutches] are a little bit like vintage pieces. They could’ve come from a museum,” says Tessier.
Born in Switzerland, Tessier decided to move to Paris to complete her formal education in interior design. Tessier’s clutches are influenced by her interior design training and traditional embroidery techniques, such as Lunéville Crochet, as well as nifty nuances, such as the application of gold threads: “The fabrics inspire me because I see a lot of fabrics through the job of interior design, art galleries and the French Art de Vivre. In the last collection, the French haute couture, I tried to keep an old savoir faire on my bags … Most of my inspiration comes more from design and art than it does fashion. I’m not so inspired by fashion. I never look at which colour will be in season. I’m not influenced by that.”
Interior design eventually led Tessier to her second life love: her now-husband and interior designer, Rémi Tessier, who ranks among the world’s most celebrated yacht interior designers. The couple met at a job interview for his design firm, Rémi Tessier Design. The interview took place at Café de Flore in Paris, near the then-site of Remi’s art gallery in Saint-Germain-des-Prés. Currently, Rémi’s design studio is located at 8th arrondissement of Paris (VIIIe arrondissement), in the same building as Gagosian Art Gallery. Despite each other’s artistic pedigree, Rémi and Carole began formally working together on design projects only once they started a family.
One result of this working relationship, Preciously Paris, was born out of one of their projects together. “I was working on a project in Gstaad, for one of my husband’s clients, and the client wanted some embroidery on the curtains. I developed some very nice curtains with Jean- François Lesage in Paris. I fell in love with what we did with this project, so I decided to embroider some of my own jeans. When I went to Art Basel in 2012, a lot of women saw these jeans and asked, ‘Where are these from?’ So I decided to launch a line of clutches. It was easier to develop because the jeans have to fit the woman; it’s more complicated. The bags are easier to develop; there is no shape.”
The rest, as they say, is history. The design powerhouse collaborates on Rémi Tessier Design projects together, transforming private residences, yachts and private jets with timeless and sophisticated interiors. It is safe to say, however, that the Tessiers’ professional collaboration is not the pinnacle of their work. Today, they have nine children together, having recently welcomed a newborn girl in early July 2021. It’s hard to believe that Carole, who exudes the air of the model who has just stepped off of the runway, is a mother to nine children — Sienna-Rose, Lou-Victoria, Ambre-Camelia, Diane-Opale, Kiara-May, Jade-Hermine, Oscar-Louis, Charly-Victor, and their latest addition to the family, daughter Ornella-Joyce.
Although Carole’s design success is clear, the way she describes the love she feels as a mother is something to which all mothers relate and which easily transcends the material world: “I love the love that it gives you. I think this is the only thing that can bring you so much joy, so much love. It’s a true feeling … and it will be there for all of your life … At the end of your life when you’re 60, 70, it’s the children that are important.”
Interestingly, the approach Tessier takes to raising her children is the same for her work. “It’s more of a feeling than a reflection. And I do everything the same in my life. The children are more a feeling, you know. If I think too much, I would never have so many children. I never think too much, because I think if you think too much, you’ll never do anything.”
If you’re wondering what the secret to her stunning figure and general beauty is, you’d be surprised by the moderate approach she takes to her health and beauty regime: “I just eat well, never drink soda, just water, rice milk, fish, meat and vegetables. I do everything normal in moderation, and never alcohol — never never. I feel I have to respect my body and that’s it. This is what I try to teach my children; just respect your body and your health.”
Tessier is the epitome of what everyone envies about French effortlessness, chic minimalism, charm, style and beauty: never overdoing it, using makeup to enhance features, never shying away from embracing natural beauty. “I love to be sophisticated, for sure. But not everything is sophisticated. The jewelry, the shoes, the bag. I’m also quite natural when it comes to makeup and hair, never too much … I always keep a natural touch,” says Tessier.
“Most Of My Inspiration Comes More From Design And Art Than It Does Fashion. I’m Not So Inspired By Fashion. I Never Look At Which Colour Will Be In Season”
As much as Tessier is inspired by the French savoir faire, rendered by skill and artistry, she is equally inspired by Italy, where her newest collection’s fabrics come from: “I love Capri. I love the story of Vulcano in Naples, and I met this company in Firenze in Florence [Fondazione Arte della Seta Lisio Firenze], and I decided to launch an antique collection,” says Tessier. The antique collection can be found at exclusive locations, like the Ritz Paris, Le Bristol Paris, and Hotel de Crillon. As a true creative, Tessier’s inspiration comes naturally to her: “I’m never searching for a big idea. The ideas come to me quite easily. When I have an idea, I just launch it … Some of my clutches are custom made for special occasions like weddings. Whatever inspires her [the client], I can translate it into embroidery on the clutch.”
Each piece tells a story and is influenced by Tessier’s colourful imagination: “Dolce Vita inspires me a lot. This period, this time, the nice cars, everything was nice, everything was quiet, in a peaceful world … I love this time because women were very feminine, they were chic and I think women are sometimes so, you know, they show everything, there is no mystery anymore … I love the time of Grace Kelly, just chic, sophisticated, but also a real woman, not under the power of the man.”
Tessier describes la Dolce Vita in a way that evokes the scenes depicted on some of her bespoke clutches: “It means to wake up in the morning in the sun and to have a nice walk somewhere in a nice little village, and when you can eat an easy lunch with natural vegetables, and simple fish with olive oil, a little rest in the afternoon, and a nice bath in the sea afterwards in a nice swimwear and a nice cappuccino at the terrace — that would be the perfect summer day for me.”
Just like a beautiful pair of pumps, a clutch can be worn throughout a lifetime, evolving step-for-step with the woman carrying it. “The women who appreciate the clutches are the women who have everything, all the luxury bags, but who want to be more exclusive, different from their friends, and who appreciate craftsmanship.”
It’s trite to say that the unique power of fashion is its ability to influence how others perceive us and how we feel about ourselves. However, Preciously Paris’ clutches are the rare pieces that balance these abilities — each clutch has the power to emote nostalgia and beauty in narrative form, while sharing a glimpse into some of the finest couture in the world. By melding the classic French emphasis on timeless pieces with deliberate Italian craftsmanship, a Preciously Paris clutch instantly transforms an ordinary outfit into something extraordinary.
While the skill of master artisans and the finest fabrics in the world define Preciously Paris, Tessier’s most perfect creation, however, is also her most natural — her family. “It’s so nice to see them grow up with all your values. I think this is for sure the most important thing in my life.”