Maïté Tanguy : fashion weaver for Haute Couture
When she talks about her passion and the times she sometimes enters a trance, Maïté Tanguy says: “Sometimes it overwhelms me, I really have to calm down! And then she laughs, as she often does. Maïté is sweet and endearing, and always generous and kind. She welcomed me in her Parisian workshop at the top of the building. It had four floors with no elevators and so many stairs she never hesitates to climb. Here is her home. However, there is no sofa or TV, no dining room or even a bedroom. She lives here, between her looms, her creations and her spools of colored threads.
This morning she is a little tired. At 74, she has just completed an order for a haute couture house and is already thinking about her next project: rearranging the space so that she can still create.
“I will never stop. I can’t. It’s my whole life! ” she says.
Maïté is originally from Brittany and at age of 14 went to a sewing school. “I quickly felt that I was interested in the subject and that I was going to go this direction one day”. She found herself a wife and mother at 19, and she put her dreams of being a designer and her talent and creativity aside to join a tailor to work on alterations. The shop was located right in front of the legendary “Le Bon Marché” department store in Paris. “I went there to dream! ” she admits, her eyes still sparkling with discovery.
Follow what is natural to you, it comes back at a gallop! After the birth of her second daughter, she decided to work at home and design her own clothes. “At 24, I was already dressing the whole family!” Then a decisive professional meeting that brought her closer to her first experience of weaving. She was only 30 years old at the time and decided to join the national textile art workshop at Les Gobelins. She learned quickly. Very quickly even! So she was ready to open her very first workshop, in the rue Mouffetard area. “At the beginning I had my shop, but I was always disturbed by customers, and I couldn’t create! It was when I moved that I really got into it.”
Her next clients were Christian Lacroix, Balenciaga, Christophe Josse, Lanvin and even Céline! Maïté weaves everything: cotton, silk, wool, metal thread or even paper. Her goal? Create the craziest fabrics!
“In the 2000s, I really had my best projects. It was wonderful because I was allowed to do whatever I wanted !”
” When I have to give samples to haute couture houses, I’m always afraid they won’t like it. But doubt is necessary because it keeps us going! “
Calm, patientice and creativity. Maïté believes these are the three qualities that have accompanied her during thousands of hours of work. During these long years she also found a ritual of her own: weaving and music.” I would choose new music for each piece and it would accompany me on a loop until the end of the production.” In more personal creations she also used music to express herself more. “I wove Bach! I never knew how to read sheet music but I listened to the music and I placed every note on the frame of my loom. Then I wove big metal periwinkles to thank my native Brittany.”
Maïté has been a teacher for the students of the city of Vanves for 37 years. She teaches them technical skill and also her passion which has kept her engaged for a lifetime. “I advise them to follow a specific direction. Furniture, sewing, textile art … You can’t do everything, otherwise you get lost … But for those who want to get started, I have a wonderful job.
As for me, I have to get used to the idea that when I leave I won’t have had time to have created everything that I wanted!
Text & fotos : Jessica Lia @jessicalia.studio