Wednesday, April 06, 2011

House of Malbranche

I tend to avoid making design declarations, but I do think that no linen closet is complete without some type of embroidered linen. It doesn't have to be anything fancy nor complicated. It could be a pair of linen hand towels with an embroidered monogram, either your own or, if antique, someone else's. Or, perhaps cocktail linens with an embroidered motif. But to have, say, custom embroidered table linen that was designed to complement your formal china, well, that is truly a luxury.

Fortunately in this country, we have
Léron, a New York based linen shop that was founded in 1910. Still owned by the same family (the Forsters), Léron sells the most marvelous embroidered linen. I could go on and on because I do adore their linen, but seeing that I've written a lengthy post about them in the past, I'll encourage you to click here to revisit Léron.

Now, in Paris, Malbranche at 17 rue Drouot is where I would go for custom embroidered linen. In business since 1860, the company not only designs and embroiders table and bed linen, but they also teach the art of embroidery to students. In fact, one of my Paris readers has studied at Malbranche for seven years. Can you imagine being able to study embroidery? I'm going to add that to the list of things I want to do "someday". But in the meantime, I think that for me, purchasing embroidered linen is the way to go.

Finding photos of Malbranche's work is a little difficult, so I had to pull images from all over the web. (You'll have to forgive the poor quality of most of the photos.) I do know, though, that the "W" pillows above- as seen in the
Walter Lees bedroom at Givenchy's Clos Fiorentina- were embroidered by Malbranche. It makes me wonder if Lees' napkins with Les Invalides embroidered on them might have been by Malbranche. Anyway, I think that after you see the embroidery below, you too might be planning your next journey to Paris with a little side trip to Malbranche.


  1. I had no idea that one could study embroidery. It seems to be something of a lost art. My grandmothers had the basics but one of my great-grandmothers learned this jaw dropping technique at a convent in Paris.
    It is so nice to see an ornate hand done monogram.

  2. Beautiful! It IS a lost art. My mother can do it beautifully, she learned it from her mother (in Nicaragua, where she lives) and then attended a "special" school for years with a dear old lady that had learned it from Spanish nuns. She tried to teach me, I only know the basics, but I know enough to appreciate it. Next time I'm in Paris I'll make sure to check this out!

  3. These make me swoon! You should also check out the French company, Valembreuse - more exquisite embroidery.

  4. It is good to know that somewhere old handicraft is still being taught. Not all embroidery can be done on a sewing machine or be software guided if the human touch - all the little missteps that occur - that adds so much character is to be retained.

  5. Just love this beautiful embroidery. I have a weakness for all lovely table tops accoutrements!! Good thing storage is an issue!!


    Your posts recently have been fabulous!
    This one on Malbranche is fantastic.

    I am often in Paris, and often at the Hotel Drouot, the auction house, and they are on rue next time I going to see if I can see Malbranche. I wonder if they have a showroom or a shop (I can't recall one).
    This is the most elegant and beautiful.
    It's the highest aspiration--clearly done by hand and so graceful and artful and lovely. Thank you for this insight and news.
    cheers, DIANE

  7. Anonymous5:04 PM

    There's also Pratesi and Porthault in Paris that do this kind of work.

  8. Oh!! I do think my family and friends are finally old enough for beautiful linens. I have collected some in Europe over the years, when the dollar was strong.I'm trying, though, to find them in excellent condition at estate sales and good flea markets. They are expensive in this era!!

  9. What wonderful memories this post brought back for me! I was Norman Foster's assistant (in those days, a secretary) for about 18 months, right out of school, 1976/78. He was a courtly man with very high standards, as you might expect. At that time, I worked at the 5th Avenue location - which was a dream - he did a great deal of his work with Belgium. Unbelievably, I was too young & foolish to make any purchases, despite a generous discount. It was also a high paying position; $175. per week, a great sum of money at that time!

  10. I love this post and I am so glad you mentioned Leron. I will soon be making a purchase. Have you ever heard of Margarb embroidery? I just started collecting it. It is so beautiful, but I must say the embroidery sites you mentioned are quite exquisite.