Harriet Welty Rochefort
Harriet is an American author, journalist and lecturer who has lived in France for more than 40 years.
Harriet is an American author, journalist and lecturer who has lived in France for more than 40 years. She has written three books about understanding French culture and people and her articles have appeared in publications like the International Herald Tribune as well as Time and Newsweek magazines. By your side, Harriet brings to life the unique savoir-faire of the Maison Legeron silk-flower workshop and shows how it epitomizes the French love of beauty.
As an American woman who has lived in Paris for over 40 years, what has your outsider perspective taught you about the City of Light and the French concept of savoir-faire?
I grew up in rural Iowa, so growing up I always had a fascination with not just the city of Paris, but the people within it and their way of life. Since leaving the Midwest over 40 years ago to settle in Paris, I’ve come to learn that the concept of savoir-faire is not just about literally knowing how to do things, but doing them with confidence in yourself; this is where the idea of the mystical “French ease” came to be.
You currently lead the fabulous “Maison Legeron” journey which introduces visitors to the craftsmen and women of one of Paris’s few remaining independent workshops. What about the Maison Legeron makes you think of it as a “must-see” for those visiting Paris?
Whenever I visit Maison Legeron, I feel I am stepping back in time. Everything in this old-fashioned atelier hidden away from the street strikes me as unusual, starting with all those bird feathers (swan, pheasant, black guinea fowl) to the rows and rows of silk white peonies created for a Cartier window display. I love the paradox, the mix of an ancient world in a modern time. Some of the tools were used hundreds of years ago and the artificial flowers are produced by a tiny group of specialized workers who fashion each feather and petal by hand. No mass production here, yet the clients are haute couture and the market is big business.