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Accueil > ESMOD group > Our history

Our history


ESMOD is inseparable from the name of its founder, Alexis Lavigne, Master Tailor in the Paris of the nineteenth century, who was notably tailor to the Empress Eugénie. He was the inventor of many patented tools still used in sewing, including the model’s bust and the tape measure.

Alexis Lavigne’s eagerness to turn his innovative know-how into theory led him to write numerous articles on the fashion of his time. He also developed unique cutting methods that were to give rise to the ESMOD Editions. The published works, updated every year, have now become the foundation of ESMOD teaching.

His investment in the transfer of expertise caused him in 1841 to open the first Lavigne cutting courses, ancestors of the ESMOD school, where apprentice tailors would come to train.


Founding of the Lavigne School

While he was one of the most prominent master tailors in the capital, he became one of the first to theorize his technique by publishing his cutting methods in 1841.

Inventor of the mannequin bust and the flexible tape measure, his work would lead to the transition from a hand-made garment to an industrial production allowing the democratization of fashion until then reserved for the elite.

In order to pass on his expertise, he created a school which, nearly 180 years later, is present in 13 countries around the world under the name ESMOD!



Alexis Lavigne, inventor of the tape measure

The 1840s in France were marked by the government’s desire to standardize all systems of measurement and to impose the metric system in all fields (science, medicine, justice, etc.).

It is in this context that, on 29 October 1847, Alexis Lavigne filed the patent for a complex machine to manufacture the famous waterproof flexible measuring tape, an indispensable tool for fashion professionals today.


The Lavigne School becomes the Guerre Lavigne School

In 1885, following the death of Alexis Lavigne, his daughter, Alice Guerre Lavigne, took over management of the school and opened it to a new public: young women. These young ladies were sponsored by Jules Ferry, whose education he encouraged.


Global Expansion

Since the 1900s, the school’s ambition has been to export its expertise on an international scale in order to enrich its methods by being in contact with other cultures and crafts.

Thus, Alice Guerre created an international network of schools teaching the Guerre Lavigne methods.



Design Appears

The 1960s marked a turning point in the school’s curriculum with the appearance of the notion of design, which contributed to the evolution of the fashion designer’s profession.

Berthe Lecomte-Guerre, Alice’s daughter, took up the torch and developed the international network of Guerre-Lavigne schools as well as publishing methods adapted to the industrial ready-to-wear industry.


The school becomes ESMOD !

Succeeding his mother, Jean Lecomte responded to the evolution of fashion by introducing in 1970 the first fashion design class at the Guerre-Lavigne school which became ESMOD in 1976.

Annette Goldstein was the first design teacher at ESMOD. In 1976, she took over this school with more than 135 years of experience, with Paule Douarinou, then assistant to Jean Lecomte.

carte esmod international 2020

ESMOD in the World

In 1984, Satoru Nino, the current Chairman of the ESMOD Group, founded ESMOD Tokyo in 1984.

Today, 20 schools in 13 countries make up a unique creative network spreading ESMOD’s expertise around the world. Although, the curriculum is the same in every school in the network, each school has a strong identity, marked by the culture and skills of the country in which it is located.


Foundation of ISEM

At the end of the 1980s, fashion took a new direction towards marketing. Thus, in 1989, the ESMOD group created ISEM, the first business school dedicated to fashion, in order to meet the new market demands. Since its creation, ISEM’s ambition has been to train marketing, sales and communication managers with a deep knowledge in fashion.

For its 30th anniversary, ISEM was renamed ESMOD Fashion Business.


Design : Auriane Ethuin - Photo : Xavier Delfosse

ESMOD's 180th Anniversary!

1841-2021 // Next year we will celebrate our 180th anniversary!

180 years of design, fashion, expertise, innovation, communication…