Oh, I see! moments
Travel Cultures Language

Help Wanted: Feathermaster at the Lido in Paris

by Meredith Mullins on March 6, 2014

Orange and turquoise exotic feathers, waiting for a feather master at the Lido in Paris to underscore the concept of living life to the fullest with the right job. (Photo © Meredith Mullins)

The Lido feathers wait for a Feathermaster.
© Meredith Mullins

Live Life to the Fullest with the Right Job

Paris seems to have more uniquely specialized jobs than most cities—from the Versailles Royal Molecatcher to the auctioneer who lights a candle every time someone offers a last bid at the Chambre des Notaires.

The French have a penchant for flair and living life to the fullest, even in the most functional of jobs.

There are also the jobs of utmost rarity. Consider the urban beekeeper who tends the hives on the roof of the Paris Opera House or the 40 “immortals” of the Académie Française, whose job it is to protect the usage, vocabulary, and grammar of the French language (who wouldn’t want to be an immortal?).

In that vein of rare professions comes the job position of Feathermaster at the Lido—the celebrated cabaret on the Champs Élysées in Paris.

Two showgirls at the Lido, living life to the fullest with the right job. (Photo courtesy of the Lido © PICS)

The Lido Revue: the best feathers in Paris
(Photo Courtesy of The Lido © PICS)

Eye Roll, Please

When I first learned that there was a Feathermaster at the Lido, I admit to rolling my eyes a bit. However, one of many Oh, I See” moments came when I toured backstage and saw nearly 600 costumes for the current show, most of which had feathers. Of course, there needs to be a feathermaster. Why would there not be?

Blue and white feathers hanging backstage, the job of the feather master living life to the fullest with the right job. (Photo © Meredith Mullins)

One of the costume areas backstage at the Lido
© Meredith Mullins

“Since the beginning, in 1946, the Lido has always had unique costumes,” says Hervé Duperret, Directeur Général of the Lido. “The sequins, rhinestones, and feathers are really a signature of the spirit of cabaret,” he adds, especially on the grand headdresses and winglike extensions of the dancers’ outfits.

Pink feathers on female dancer, cared for by the feather master living life to the fullest with the right job. (Photo courtesy of the Lido © PICS)

Fluffiness at its height
(Photo courtesy of the Lido © PICS)

The Feathers Need a Master

“Feathers are both fragile and resilient at the same time,” Duperret explains, with the pride of a parent. “They need to be maintained with care. We have more than 20 varieties of feathers on our costumes. Each has its own special treatment.” Taking care of them is the job of an expert feathermaster (plumassière in French). And the position is open.

The Lido has been without a feathermaster for several months now since the last plumassière left. While there were more than 400 plumassières in the Belle Époque between 1871–1914 (feathers were a way of life then), there are now just a handful of experts. It has been difficult to find a qualified replacement.

A white feather headdress at the Lido in Paris, waiting for a feather master, a job that allows for living life to the fullest (Photo © Meredith Mullins)

Splendor in white
© Meredith Mullins

In stellar showbiz tradition, however, the show must go on . . . and the feathers must continue to be nothing short of splendorous. The ten Lido seamstresses (couturières) have risen to the challenge.

With passion and extensive study of what the different feathers need, the couturières dust, brush, steam, wash and dry, reattach, replace, or generally cajole the feathers back to fluffy perfection for the Lido performances each evening. The ostrich, marabou, pheasant, hen, turkey and peacock plumes strut their stuff, as beautifully as ever—the ultimate in cabaret haute couture.

Brown and blue feathers, waiting for a feather master at the Lido in Paris, a job that allows for living life to the fullest. (Photo © Meredith Mullins)

The art of feather haute couture
© Meredith Mullins

You might think 30-pound headdresses of jewels and feathers on a troupe of lithe and graceful semi-clad dancers would steal the show. But there are a lot of competing elements to the Bonheur (Happiness) extravaganza.

An ice skating rink and a golden temple rise from the depths. A motorized elephant transports an Indian princess. A white horse (real) side steps across the stage in the mist. In one scene, there are so many onstage fountains that you feel the humidity change even in the back row.

Fountains over mannequins at the Lido in Paris, a place where living life to the fullest with the right job is possible. (Photo © Meredith Mullins)

A practice simulation of the extraordinary fountain scene
© Meredith Mullins

Precision Onstage and Off

Imagine 23 set and costume changes during the 1.5 hour show. Backstage is organized chaos. Most transitions are completed in minutes. And all are orchestrated from a narrow area behind the stage called “the aircraft carrier”—six floors of “shelves” for props, sets, and costumes.

Backstage at the Lido in Paris, with a variety of costumes, a place that proves concept of living life to the fullest with the right job. (Photo © Meredith Mullins)

Dressing room ready for the one-minute costume changes
© Meredith Mullins

Precision backstage is as important as presence onstage and customer friendliness for the audience. Every one of the 350 employees is critical to the show’s success. All seem to enjoy the cabaret life.

A costume station backstage at the Lido in Paris, a place where living life to the fullest with the right job is possible. (Photo © Meredith Mullins)

Help Wanted: Feathermaster
© Meredith Mullins

Birds of a Feather

So, if you know a plumassière or if you are ready for a career change, keep this job opening in mind.

And keep another Oh, I See” moment in mind whenever you are thinking about living life to the fullest:

We can’t all be one of the 40 “immortals,” but if we’re happy and needed in our work, whatever niche we may fit into, immortality is within reach.

Comment on this post below, or inspire insight with your own OIC Moment here.


7 thoughts on “Help Wanted: Feathermaster at the Lido in Paris

  1. Hi.

    I would be intrested in the position.
    I have a lot of experience in this domain.

    To bad that the name or even email to send my resume isn’t posted.

    Kind regards.

  2. How on earth do you get these entrees to yet another such special niche, Meredith? Your unconventional network is intriguing. Great shots of behind the scenes.

    • Hi Pamela,
      Thank you for your comments.

      I’m sure there are hundreds more niches just waiting for us to discover them. Can’t wait!!

    • Hi Pamela,
      Thank you for your comment. There is something about a feathermaster that is very inspiring, isn’t there? Pride of work, no matter what the focus.

      Best wishes,

  3. Hi Jayne,
    How wonderful if OIC could be a link to a new feathermaster for the Lido! (And I’m not surprised that there would be a feathermaster in your circle of friends. You live such a dramatic life.)

    I would imagine that applying through the Director, M. Duperret, would be a good start.

    Best of luck to your friend. And thanks for reading OIC Moments.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. The name you enter will appear with your comment. * Required field

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

Copyright © 2011-2013 OIC Books   |   All Rights Reserved   |   Theme: Esquire by Matthew Buchanan.