Raging against the dying of the art

Raging against the dying of the art
By Robert HackwillDoloresz Katanich
Share this articleComments
Share this articleClose Button
Copy/paste the article video embed link below:Copy to clipboardCopied

Euronews meets the last Feathermaster of Paris, Eric Charles-Donatien, always in demand from the fashion houses, but keen to ensure he is not the last of his kind in the French capital.


Fragile, ephemeral, born of nature yet ideally suited to artifice, few things are as delicate as a feather. Euronews went to Paris, to meet the last master of feathercraft in the city.

"The art of feathercraft dates back centuries here in Paris. We have come to the capital of fashion to visit one of the city's last remaining feather masters, Eric Charles-Donatien", reports Euronews' Doloresz Katanich.

"You have your hands for yourself, your head to help them, your heart to make sure they become sensitive, and emotional with people. I do not think that any valuable craftwork can eliminate emotion," said Donatien.

This attitude drives one of the most sought-after master artisans in today's fashion world.

Eric Charles-Donatien values being behind the scenes, hence he has his studio modestly nestled in the 11th district in Paris.

He started in a very similar hidden but exclusive workshop, in the legendary Maison Lemarié, (founded in 1880), specialized in featherwork.

After creating his own company, he has kept working, hand in hand with some of the biggest luxury brands on their creations.

The artisan works on interior design pieces and decor elements as well as different pieces of fashion, such as feathercrafted jewellery.

"My concept is to always mix the feathers with something else, I am from a mix myself, I am Indian-Caribbean, and I think that mixing is the key in our work," he said.

Among other things, he has created a table centrepiece for the Homo Faber exhibition in Venice, using different materials to show the diversity of this craft.

"The centrepiece was one of the options we had for the Homo Faber exhibition. It's an arch and the idea is to evoke armour, to remember that feathers are exactly like scales functioning as something beautiful but also something that protects as well as welcomes."

While he possesses some outstanding feathers, donated to him mainly by zoos, he emphasizes that only naturally-shed feathers are used in his craft.

He observes the current Washington Convention and uses no protected or endangered bird feathers. He regularly holds workshops for young aspiring artisans to make sure the craft is properly passed down to the next generation.

"It is hard to make them understand that there are some times when they have to forget themselves behind the work. It is about sharing, it is about making sure that you are doing something for this craft, for these feathers," he said.

Eric Charles-Donatien sees some challenges ahead for craftspeople in Europe and all around the world.

"I think that we have to reevaluate handwork. We understood that we can promote it by showing and sharing, but now we have to understand that if we do not give it an economic value it, it will die," warns Donatien.

The feather artist is invited to participate at the Homo Faber exhibition in Venice to showcase his rare craft among other representatives of the finest European craftwork.

Share this articleComments

You might also like