Emilie Moutard-Martin, on how she transforms her love for plumes into poetic feathered creations

Feather jewellery pieces

Feather Fairy

Describe your first encounter with feathers.
I discovered them nine years ago at an exhibition on the art of feather-working while training as a milliner. My attention was drawn not so much to the finished pieces on display, but to the small feather samples. I was attracted to the variations in texture and the natural patterns. I saw Impressionist paintings in them. I had never looked at a material in this way. I then decided to follow this path and to dedicate myself to feathers and make them my material of predilection.

Emilie Moutard-Martin
Emilie Moutard-Martin

Where did you learn the art of feather-working?
I acquired the basic techniques not at school but from two feather artisans in Paris over the course of three years: Maitre d’Art Nelly Saunier and Dominique Pillard, whom we talk much less about but who works in haute couture and is very involved in the transmission of savoir faire. What is interesting also is that everyone develops his own approach and vision of the feather.

What is the most important element in the making of your creations?
I wish to introduce a new way of looking at feathers. Through my creations, by shaping and assembling feathers, I wish to highlight one or more of their features to reveal their intrinsic beauty. Depending on the piece I’m creating, I focus on different elements: shape, colour, pattern or texture. Additionally, feathers have a connection with light, with movement amplifying this relationship. Light therefore becomes a material to shape.

Tell me about your work in haute couture.
I sometimes work in fashion on an assignment basis and then in partnership with other artisans and well-known brands. There are always ongoing projects. I’ve done work for Jean-Paul Gaultier, feather house Lemarie, various haute couture shows and a parasol for Hermes, which is still displayed in its Wanderland exhibition.

You collaborated for the first time with a watch brand in 2015, when you worked on a timepiece for Piaget’s Secrets & Lights – A Mythical Journey collection. This year, you worked on the dial of Piaget’s Altiplano Feather Marquetry…
It takes one week to complete the feather marquetry on a dial, whose composition reflects radiance. But the feathers themselves, by their structural colour, respond to this theme of radiance. The reflections, the nuances, the iridescence created by the decomposition of the light on the micro-slivers, or barbs, of the peacock sabres and duck mirrors allow a constant dialogue with the light. The moving wrist amplifies this phenomenon.

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Published 4th June 2017
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