It has always been found in the aristocratic houses and castles of the ancien regime of France, became all the rage in the 1930s as well as in the 1970s. It actually never really left, and today, adorns stylish living rooms and bedrooms around the globe.
Shagreen – skin of the stingray – became popular during the reign of Louis XV and used as a veneer on courtly objects like snuff boxes and wig cases among others by master leatherworker Jean-Claud Galluchat, who bequeathed his name to the craft. Napoleon Bonaparte was said to have had a room all done up in shagreen. In Japan, the hilt of the Samurai sword was sheathed in shagreen, which prevented it from getting slick “even when drenched with the blood of the enemy.”
In 2006, French gem trader Jean Marc Pasquet brought the art of shagreen to the Philippines, particularly Cebu, where the skill of local inlay artisans is world renowned. Since then, La Galuche, the company he opened in 2006 in the Cebu Export Zone, has produced an exceptional range of furniture and accessories for discriminating clients such as King Hassan II of Morocco, actress Brooke Shields and lifestyle maven Josie Cruz-Natori. Pasquet has retired and now lives on a boat, traveling the high seas, but his daughter Lani and son Dean have taken over the business that employs around 50 skilled workers, many of them relatives.
Besides stingray hide, which Lani Pasquet assures, is not taken off an endangered marine creature, La Galuche also works with parchment (goat skins), python, tropical shells and luxurious woods (ebony and palm wood), combining these materials into works of art that can at once turn any home into a palace.
For a peek at La Galuche’s collections, visit www.lagaluche.com. All orders are custom made.