Hawthorne & Heaney :Dismantling of a Victorian Mourning Shawl

WHO, WHAT & WHY?

Hawthorne & Heaney was given the Victorian shawl by Sue Thomas from Savile Row bespoke.

HISTORY

In the Victorian era, black was considered the appropriate colour to be worn when mourning the loss of a loved one and in some cultures, this is still the case today. It is believed that the mourning attire was a protection against negative thoughts. By wearing the colour black it also informed family, friends and acquaintances that the wearer had recently lost someone close to them and was a warning not to approach them within this sad period of time. For women, the fashion symbolised the depth of affliction with the colour of clothing indicating the gradual return from black to bold clothing through the hues of purple and violet, this was recognised as the second stage of mourning. The length of time Victorian women wore mourning garments varied on the degree of relationship with the deceased from a week up to a year.

DISMANTLING OF THE SHAWL

The dismantling of the shawl was a very long process as parts of the shawl was originally constructed using an embroidery technique called tambour beading. Tambour is French for drum and is done by using a hook where the fabric is stretched as tight as a drum. The fabric can be stretched by being sewn onto a rectangular frame or placed in a wooden hoop. The Tambour hook makes a chain stitch in a technical order where it will keep each bead securely in place. If the knot or process of the tambour chain stitch was to be done incorrectly then the whole beadwork would come undone. Depending on your experience using the Tambour technique beads can be secured in place very fast this is why a lot of fashion houses such as Dior are well known for using this technique in order to get garments completed on a tight time schedule. To get each bead loose from the shawl the embroidery stitches were cut allowing the bead to be free. Once all the beads were eventually dismantled from the Victorian shawl they were sorted into bags so all the same beads were neatly secured and measured ready to be used again. Below you are able to see photographs of sections from the shawl being dismantled.

NEW PURPOSE

It is very important to Hawthorne & Heaney that the beads are used in another exciting project. This is because of the heritage behind this shawl and the construction that went into the making of it was exquisite. With the shawl being so old it was beginning to fall apart and unable to be restored therefore there was no other option but to take it apart and store the beads safely away until we find a project that will give them a new purpose. We are unsure currently what that project will be but we are sure we will know when the time comes.

KANYE WEST

This season the studio has been busy with a particularly interesting client with an exciting brief. We had to keep the project confidential during production but are now very excited to be able to share some photographs of the outcome.

We were approached by Louise Goldin’s team on behalf of Kanye West, and asked to advise on the design and production of an embroidered ladies jacket. This would be part of Mr West’s first catwalk collection to be shown during Paris Fashion Week 2011. With a tight lead time of two weeks this project had to be undertaken in our UK studio, enabling our team to respond quickly to the necessary revisions to the design whilst maintaining the exacting standards required for such an intricate piece.

A project like this required a huge amount of preparation, for example each one of the 1028 PP32 Swarowski crystals were placed in their settings by hand by the team.

In collaboration with Mr West’s team we produced a fully embroidered, diamante and beaded jacket depicting a tiger’s jaw and head markings.

This was an exhilarating and challenging project to be involved with and we thoroughly enjoyed working with Mr West and his team.

All designs are Copyright Mr K West.