Dominique De Roo, official feather worker at Lido cabaret with his assistant, Nepalese artist Sujan Gurung, in his studio in Paris, June 1, 2022 (AFP/Thomas COEX)
Official featherweight of the Lido, Dominique de Roo has been creating magical costumes for 50 years. But in 2020, when the covid paralyzed parades and parades, it resigned itself to closing. It was then that the next generation arrived, disguised as a 20-year-old Nepali youth.
In a few weeks’ time, the mythical cabaret on the Champs-Elysées will host its latest feather magazine and bid farewell to its “Bluebell girls” to become a music venue, as its buyer, the Accor hotel group, wanted. , with 157 stake jobs. removed from 184.
“It’s a shock: Lido wasn’t a client, it was a second family: it paid my rent but it was more than that. And I feel very sorry for all those who are going to be laid off,” from Roo, 73, whose family business , RD Plumes, has worked for the Lido for two generations, he told AFP.
The workshop of Dominique De Roo, official feather worker at the Lido cabaret, in Paris, June 1, 2022 (AFP / Thomas COEX)
In her workshop shop on Sentier, young designers come with bright eyes to buy ostrich, goose, rooster or pheasant feathers in coral red or emerald green, while Emilie, Emilienne, Camille and Lison, interns aged 19 to 23, patiently feathers cut for the petticoats of cabaret dancers.
“The Champs-Elysées without the Lido won’t be the same,” he says. “There’s still French cancan at Paradis Latin and Moulin Rouge, but it’s fading… Las Vegas, which does a lot of beautiful feather reviews, is beating us. I was contacted by people there, but at my age… maybe Sujan will.”
In 2020, as the house celebrates its 150th anniversary, the health crisis prompts him to “stop everything”. “And then… Sujan appeared,” he said.
Coming from Nepal at age 20 in March 2019 to attend the SHG hotel school in Lyon, Sujan Gurung found himself idle a year later when the Covid-19 pandemic brought the restaurant business to a halt.
He then met Dominique de Roo, who showed him around his studio. “Watching us work he told me + it doesn’t seem complicated +. I replied + Try it… +, and he created a pink and white show structure: pure wonder”.
– “Call” from the pen –
The workshop of Dominique De Roo, an official employee of the Lido cabaret, in Paris on June 1, 2022 (AFP / Thomas COEX)
Creative, Sujan continues with brooches, paintings and joins the Lido workshop, which repairs ballerina costumes.
“To work with this, you have to love the feathers: there are many techniques to learn and it is a very rare profession: it is interesting to continue this”, he says, adding: “in Nepal we have many birds, but he doesn’t know how to use the feathers. “.
Jean-Paul Gaultier’s plumassier, Dominique Pillard, trained him in dyeing: he immediately obtained subtle nuances. “He has a gift,” says de Roo, whose grandmother, Elisa Didier de Nil, began writing in 1870 in Bruges.
A friend of Jeanne Lanvin, she worked for hatters and milliners with local pheasant and rooster feathers, before buying an ostrich farm in South Africa. Among her famous clients: Josephine Baker, who sports a hips pose or “fake ass” in black-dyed silver pheasant feathers.
From the age of six, Dominique de Roo learned to cut feathers and steam them. At 16, he left to produce shows, but came back at 25: “It was like the call of the sea to the sailors,” he says. He was joined by his mother, Delphina de Nil, a “shadow worker” who lived alongside designers Cristobal Balenciaga and Hubert de Givenchy.
Once dyed, the feathers are “fried”, “twisted”, “rolled”, glued, sewn… series (The Serpent Queen)… or dress up a life-size deer or dachshunds for the luxury group’s window displays. Hermes.
The house “works with respect for the animal,” says Mr. de Roo, using feathers from “molt” or “recovered from farm animals slaughtered for consumption” or, for ostriches, cut every 9 months, “like shearing a sheep”. .