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A Parisian Artisan Elevates the Umbrella

Christina Garofalo

Fabergé pendants, ostrich feathers, and pearly shagreen leathers are among the materials used by Michel Heurtault to create his new line of custom umbrellas and parasols. Indeed, the Parisian designer and artisan—who recently received the Maître d’art honor for his highly skilled work—believes that an umbrella is not just an item of utility but an extension of one’s wardrobe. After spending 20 years creating costumes and corsets for couture designers like Dior, Heurtault mastered the perfect shape and tension for stretching fabric over a frame, which—following his first commission, from Hermès—translated into artful silk canopies in a range of colors. For his new umbrellas, Heurtault has reinvented vintage styles by using French silk pongee, silk twill, and taffeta linings to cover a 10-rib frame. The most basic examples are set with a leather handle (about $335); on a more complex umbrella, the shaft and handle are carved from a solid piece of Macassar ebony (from $4,735).

At his workshop, Parasolerie Heurtault—which is located alongside many of Paris’s top craftsmen shops at the Viaduc des Arts building—Heurtault traces the patterns for canopies on paper and then onto silk, cutting and applying them to the panels entirely by hand with an intermediate piece of silk sewn in to prevent leaks. Each canopy is steamed to form the ideal shape, and the runner is dressed in matching fabric.

The production of a single umbrella can employ up to seven workers and take more than 10 days to complete, depending on the complexity of the design. Clients are encouraged to begin orders online; bespoke orders require a follow-up conversation. Models that are in stock can arrive in as little as four days, whereas bespoke orders can take anywhere from two weeks to five months, depending on the specifications and the availability of the materials, which can include precious metals and stones. (+33.144.73.45.71, www.parasolerieheurtault.com)

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Photo by Ted Morrison