Internationally renowned, Moulin Rouge feather worker Maxime Leroy shines in Toulouse

Did you know that the pheasant has 145 varieties of feathers? Maxime Leroy, Prize for young creation of fine crafts in 2018, knows this anecdote and so many others on this material that he loves. “Like hair or nails, it’s keratin, a bioplastic. With my imagination, I can do anything from the pen. I have a very easy relationship with this material”, ures the one who prefers to define himself as a craftsman. And, to see the Haute Voltige exhibition, which has been dedicated to him since May 24 at the Paul-Dupuy Museum of Precious Arts (until November 12), we believe him at his word, as Maxime Leroy brings out the pen of the world of haute couture.

If he continues to collaborate with houses like Jean-Paul Gautier, Hermès, “which have lent extraordinary pieces”, the young man of 34 is also interested in design, jewelry or art. We can thus discover his favorite piece, an incredible trompe-l’oeil – his specialty – of a bouquet of mimosa. “In this tail, the slice of lemon and the sprig of rosemary are also trompe-l’oeil. The skin of the lemon is goose and ostrich, the inside with the base of the feathers. This may be of interest to photographers for advertising, for example,” he continues.

2 to 3 tons of ostrich feathers per year

Creator of his own M. Marceau featherwork workshop, Maxime Leroy also took over, a few years ago, Maison Juillet, a living heritage company which manages the creation, maintenance and restoration of costumes for the red Mill. “We use 2 to 3 tons of ostrich feathers per year, in particular to make the 3,000 meters of boas by hand,” he explains, specifying that these are farmed birds.

Moulin Rouge feather worker, Maxime Leroy presents outfits and the work done for this famous house.
Moulin Rouge feather worker, Maxime Leroy presents outfits and the work done for this famous house.

A technicality and know-how that Francis Saint-Genez, director of the museum which reopened its doors last November, wanted to highlight at all costs. “By reworking the course, we intended to promote contemporary creation in the arts and crafts. I was amazed by his work and it made sense to present it to us, because we are close to the spirit of the founder Paul Dupuy, who wanted to transmit and preserve old techniques. »

“Unique in Europe and probably in the world”

Maxime Leroy, who imagined the museum as “a little setting” and created bespoke works for the exhibition, agrees, since he sees craftsmanship as sharing. He, whose pion blossomed during his CAP at the Octave-Feuillet vocational high school in Paris, insists on the importance of supporting this training “unique in Europe and undoubtedly in the world”.

The exhibition also pays homage to this ancestral technique practiced in particular by native American civilizations through a monumental headdress. A perfect counterpoint to the exhibition Feathers of the Americas from the Museum of the Americas in Auch, which has one of the oldest feather paintings in the world, with the M of Saint Gregory, dated 1539. A dialogue with art that can be found in collaborations with Scenocosme and Francis Beninca, guest artists as part of this Haute Voltige exhibition. Two photographic visions at the Espace du Matou come to bring complementary angles on this craft and this extraordinary material that is the feather.

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