Lido feather worker will survive thanks to Sujan Gurung

Paris – Lido’s official plumassier 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 Nepalese 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, wants. , 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 am very sorry for all those who will be made redundant,” said Mr. de Roo, 73, whose family business, RD Plumes, has worked for the Lido for two generations.

In their 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-Élysées without the Lido won’t be the same,” he says. “French cancan still exists at Paradis Latin and Moulin Rouge, but it’s disappearing… Las Vegas, which makes a lot of beautiful feather magazines, is winning us over. 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 look complicated’. I replied “Try it…”, and he created a pink and white show structure: pure wonder.”

“Call” of the pen

Creative, Sujan continues with brooches, paintings and joins the Lido workshop, which repairs ballerina costumes. “To work with this you have to like feathers: there are a lot of techniques to learn and it’s a very rare job: it’s interesting to continue this”, he says, adding: “in Nepal we have a lot of 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 hatters 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, she left to produce shows, but came back at 25: “It was like the call of the sea to the sailors”, she says. He was joined by her 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… TV series (The Serpent Queen)… or dressing a deer or life-size dachshunds for the windows of the luxury group Hermès.

The house “works with respect for the animal,” says Mr. de Roo, using “molt” feathers, “recovered from farm animals slaughtered for consumption” or, for ostriches, cut every 9 months, “like a sheep’s shear”. (AFP)

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