Click to download Tribute to His Majesty PDF

Live Phuket The Phuket News The Phuket News Kata Rocks The Phuket News
The Phuket News World News
The Phuket News Phuket | Thailand | World | Business | Q&A | Weird World XML, RSS, Feed
The Phuket News The Phuket News
The Phuket News

The Basque beret, from peasant cap to ‘emblem of France’

FRANCE: The beret has come a long way since its humble beginnings as the headgear of choice for pelota players in the Basque country, becoming a must-have accessory as far afield as China.



Saturday 27 August 2016, 03:27PM

In Oloron-Sainte-Marie, France’s ‘Basque Beret Capital’, one company, the House of Laulhere, lays claim to being the oldest producer of the flat cap. Photo: Iroz Gaizka/AFP
In Oloron-Sainte-Marie, France’s ‘Basque Beret Capital’, one company, the House of Laulhere, lays claim to being the oldest producer of the flat cap. Photo: Iroz Gaizka/AFP

The jaunty topper preferred by Che Guevara and Pablo Picasso added a saucy touch to Monica Lewinsky’s look in a famous photo of her getting a hug from then president Bill Clinton at a 1996 White House event.

In Oloron-Sainte-Marie, France’s “Basque Beret Capital”, one company, the House of Laulhere, lays claim to being the oldest producer of the flat cap, turning them out for nearly 200 years.

The beret will never go out of fashion, says commercial director Mark Saunders.

“The image of the Frenchman with a baguette under the arm and a beret on his head is obsolete only in the minds of the French,” says the 47-year-old Irishman.

“Overseas, the beret is the emblem of France, synonymous with luxury and fashion,” he says, noting that Monaco’s Princess Charlene donned a Laulhere beret for her first public appearance after the birth of her twin girls two years ago.

Laulhere is now one of the last firms to produce berets that are 100 per cent made in France.

“Just 30 years ago in this region there were 22 beret factories,” Saunders says in fluent French tinged with an Irish brogue.

A few new manufacturers have sprung up recently in nearby Bearn, including some that simply put the finishing touches on berets that they buy wholesale, he notes.

“We are not the last French maker but the last historic maker of the French beret,” Saunders says with a twinkle in his eye.

Laulhere has a counterpart in the Spanish Basque country just over the border, Boinas Elosegui, in the town of Tolosa in the shadow of the Pyrenees.

Founded in 1858, it is the only Spanish company to make fine quality Basque berets. Like Laulhere, at Boinas Elosegui almost the entire process from weave to finish is carried out by hand using pure virgin merino wool.

Laulhere’s unique know-how earned the company the coveted national distinctions of Living Heritage Enterprise and Guaranteed Origin France in 2012.

“One of the secrets is the felting, in which the berets are washed for between five and seven hours with water from the river Gave,” Saunders said. “The minerals in the Gave water give the Laulhere berets their feel, which you cannot achieve with tap water.”

The firm was on the edge of bankruptcy in 2012 when it was bought by the Cargo holding company grouping around 15 small businesses in southwestern France.

Now, with a staff of 45 producing 200,000 berets per year and a turnover of 2.9 million euros (B110mn)) in 2015, the company has three main markets.

The traditional “Heritage” beret makes up 35% of its output; another 30% goes to military clients in France and around the world, with the rest going to haute-couture thanks to the fashion trend set by designers such as Dolce & Gabbana, John Galliano, Louis Vuitton and Ralph Lauren.

It is also the official supplier of France’s rugby team.

Nearly a third of its production is for export, with clients in around 20 countries including Japan, China and the United States.

The process involves 10 main stages using purpose-built “top-secret” equipment.

The knitting is now mechanised, but all the other stages are performed by hand – including felting, dying, shaping, shaving, finishing and garnishing.

The basic beret costs 25 euros (B969), while luxury models can be priced at as much as 1,400 euros (B54,237).



The Phuket News
The Phuket News
Comment on this story
* Please login to comment. If you do not have an account please register below by simply entering a username, password and email address. You can still leave your comment below at the same time.
Comments Here:
    Forget your password?

Be the first to comment.

The Phuket News
The Phuket News The Phuket News The Phuket News
The Phuket News
Share this
The Phuket News
Have a news tip-off? Click here
The Phuket News
Related stories
The Phuket News
Phuket community

Recent Comments

Thailand bans cheering at World Cup qualifier

Thai government asked people to tone down at least 30 days. His respected majesty King Bhumibol passed away on October 13. The match is on November ...(Read More)

Staffer shot in leg at Phuket shooting range

incorrect fire arm protocol results in these kind of ACCIDENTS.the tourist should consider paying the hospital fees as a mark of respect and fairness ...(Read More)

Russian diver dies after car bursts into flames in Wichit

Tip. Don't try doing these 3 things at the same time. Driving a car with tanks of gas in the back, lighting a cigarette with ( flammable ) Rus...(Read More)

Pitfalls of diligence and leases

Personally with all the con's, illegal land titles, the only "do" option to be safe is do invest your money in property elsewhere! Prefe...(Read More)

Emotional outpouring in song at Sanam Luang

A impressive, respectful, warm and thoughtful homage to His late Majesty King Bhumibol, Rama IX. But the figures. ( original story) 'Authoriti...(Read More)

Phuket pedestrian killed crossing Thepkrassattri Rd

This is what happens when pedestrians that aren't paying attention encounter a driver that also isn't paying attention. We all see it all the...(Read More)

Officials unable to save dolphin rescued from Phuket beach

Maybe from swimmng in the sewage tainted ocean. If you saw the water in Patong today it is not surprising that more things haven't washed up dead...(Read More)

Thai man, 22, stabs friend to death in Phuket

The fool has the mental capacity ofa crazed animal, and he should be treated like one...yes, as in put to sleep. Another unnecessary and unwanted bur...(Read More)

Action plan aims to cut road carnage

It needs to be enforced with action not only with words, but there is never any will for the former. Education in schools is also important as some Th...(Read More)

Staffer shot in leg at Phuket shooting range

When I hear about "tourists" from Libya, or Yemen or other countries alike, I just think what kind of shady business brought them into LOS...(Read More)

The Phuket News
Bangkok Hospital Phuket
Weird World
The Phuket News PHUKET LIFE
Phuket Arts
Phuket Community
Phuket Culture
Phuket Dining
Phuket Education
Phuket Entertainment
Phuket Environment
Phuket Health
Phuket People
Phuket Travel
Photo Galleries
The Phuket News PHUKET SPORT
Phuket Buy and Sell
Phuket Jobs
Phuket Property
Phuket Cars and Boats
Phuket Community
Phuket Services
The Phuket News The Phuket News PHUKET EVENTS
Phuket Event listings
Phuket Event calendar
Buy Tickets
Phuket Bars, pubs and clubs
Phuket Hotels and villas
Phuket Restaurants
Phuket Yellow Pages
The Phuket News BARGAINS
The Phuket News ABOUT US
The Company
Distribution points
Advertise with us
Pay for advert
Contact us
Content Google Map
Site map
Australian Visa Services
Currency - The Phuket News   Weather Report - The Phuket News   Surf Report - The Phuket News
LinkedIn - The Phuket News   Twitter - The Phuket News   YouTube - The Phuket News   Facebook - The Phuket News
Copyright © 2016 Class Act Media. All rights reserved. | Website usage terms and conditions | Privacy and Confidentiality Statement.