Alexis Lavigne and his inventions


Behind the scenes of the invention of the tape measure and the mannequin

In France, the 1840’s were marked by the state’s desire to standardize the systems of measurement and apply the metric system in every field of activity (sciences, medicine, justice, etc.)

The anthropometric measurement system created by Alphonse Bertillon and used on convicts, is a good example.

The tape measure
A revolutionary tool for tailors.

In this context, Alexis Lavigne registered the patent of a complex machine in October 29 th 1847 designed to manufacture the renowned tape measure, used nowadays by every fashion professionals.

Master tailors used to keep scissors marked paper ribbons for every client despite their fragility.

Ils utilisaient des mètres étalons disposés sur les murs de la capitale.

Les centimètres souples édités aujourd'hui, rappelent la plus pure tradition de cette invention révolutionnaire...

...encore utilisée aujourd'hui par les étudiants d'ESMOD ainsi que par toute la profession.

Since 1837, Alexis Lavigne had been working on an adjustable “mechanical corset” designed to reduce the number of fittings by first taking a client’s measurements and then adjusting the buttonholes. This professional tool, along with his work on measurements, will lead him to the invention of the mannequin.

Since adapting to every morphology constitutes the art of tailoring, Alexis Lavigne is thinking about creating custom molded mannequins.

This reduces the number of fittings and enables him to work at a distance from his international clientele.

Aujourd'hui, le programme de 1ère année d'ESMOD intègre un procédé similaire afin de permettre à ses étudiants de comprendre la notion de volumes...

... et son passage en 2 dimensions, à savoir : le patron.

The mannequin
From custom-made to ready-to wear.

In November 5th 1854, Alexis Lavigne registered the patent of the production method for plaster molded mannequins, 5 years after presenting a noticed prototype during the 1849 Industrial Exhibition.

He molded a form for Empress Eugenie in 1857 whose curves were supposedly “ideal”.
He thus became known as the “Empress’ tailor for riding costumes”, a prestigious tittle for an effective advertising campaign.

3 pieces riding costume for woman included trousers which could only be produced by men master tailors.
For decency reasons, women could not wear trousers by law except when riding a horse.

As a reminder, this law was officially abolished in France in January 31 st 2013!

Alexis understands that fashion is moving towards clothing manufacture, moving away from custom-made.

He standardized his mannequin production, offering a range of different sizes based on his previous work on body shapes.

It is a success !

Despite his success, his Levallois-Perret factory was bombarded during the 1870 war.

Holder of mannequin production, he registered the patent of a process designed to enable tailors and dress makers to produce client mannequins themselves.

At this time, one of his employee and disciple, Frederick Stockman, starts an industrial-scale production of mannequins.

His brand is now a global reference in the fashion industry since the beginning of the 20 th century.

Aujourd'hui, ESMOD propose une nouvelle version du buste Lavigne : le demi buste, proposant les mêmes proportions que le buste classique mais réduites de moitié.

Cela permet une manipulation plus facile et une économie de toile lors des travaux de recherche de volumes et de drapés.
Ici, un atelier de découverte du modélisme à ESMOD Paris.

L'ouvrage Saga de mode retrace en détail l'historique d'ESMOD ainsi que les nombreuses inventions de son père fondateur, Alexis Lavigne.

Credits: Story

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