After what you can see was a very busy and sucessful hand event, we can’t wait for our next one. If you would like to be our next event, get in touch!
Embroidery, much like fabric, is not made to last forever. So when we are looking for examples of historical textiles, sometimes, they simply do not exisit anymore as the fabrics disintergrate with age and use. However we do still have a source of what textiles might have looked like in their glory days in the form of painting.
During a recent trip to Amsterdam in the Rijksmuseum, we came across some wonderful examples of historical painting which showed great detail of the textiles that they protrayed.
most likely showing a print of Japanese origin
Demonstrating the fineness and whiteness of her flat lace collar
Depicting traditional goldwork techniques and bullion fringing
We also have had one of our interns, Amy Pickard working on a project for us in house where she chose a painting which featured a beautiful piece of textiles and has been working to recreate it herself.
For the project, she starting point with a visit to the National and National Portrait Galleries. Here she collected primary research of examples of historical textiles. There was a lot of symmetry and geometric shapes as well as a heavy use of floral motifs. It was wonderful to see so many paintings with gorgeous details and being able to name techniques documented.
Having attended a tambour beading class with our partner company, (London Embroidery School) she decided to recreate one of the motifs using this technique.
Here at Hawthorne & Heaney we had a bit of a special project on at the moment for a certain wedding that took place in September 2018. We were tasked with creating the chasuble for the priest to wear for our Director’s wedding.
Approaching a garment like this is a sizeable task because of the importance of the imagery and the congregation that will see it. Designed by our director, the cross shaped design features a large image of the holy spirit as a dove at the top. This was inspired by an old piece of cut work embroidery which we are reinterpreting for machine embroidery. We wanted it to retain some of the original cutwork movement which can be seen in the direction of the running stitches and feathers. This also informed the choice of metallic silver for the details to get that shimmer amongst the sheen of the white machine thread.
The middle section has a series of flowers which we focused on the shading of them amongst the raised scrolls and braid work.
Down the bottom we have the lamb of god: “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” John 1:29. For his imagery we wanted to emulate a similar texture to that of the dove but with a more ‘wooley’ nature.
Each section of the embroidery has to be tidyed and finished by hand which you may be able to see from some of the earlier photos where the design is still on the machine, the stitching looks a bit rougher than the polished finish we were going for.
We also added some crystals and small hamd details at the end which added those final details to make it sing.
But even when we were done with it, that was not the end of its journey as it was delivered to the tailors who made it into the chasuble itself.
Re-interpretting originally hand embroidered designs in machine embroidery can be quite challenging to give it a style of its own and not to look like a lesser version of the hand embroidered piece. We aim not to replicate it, but to reimagine it.
If your instagram feed is anything like ours then you will not have failed to notice the hugh amount of attention that the Dior: Designer of Dreams exhibition is getting at the V & A Museum at the moment. Following its opening on the 2nd February, the exhibition which is held in the museum’s new Sainsbury wing, it has received an unprescedented amount of visitors.
The exhibition is currently sold out, with tickets being drip released around the 15th of each month and a few kept back each day on a first come first served basis. Members of the V&A however can still visit at their leisure and Hawthorne and Heaney were lucky enough to visit the exhibition on members night in order to bring you our insight.
The London exhibition has a much greater focus on the individual designers of the House of Dior so if you had already seen it at Musee Des Arts Decoratifs in Paris, then this version brings a different angle. Split into a series of sections, this part of the exhibition really gives you a sense of what each creative director has brought to the house. Furthermore it also highlights some of the key aspects of Dior as a fashion house, which holds all the designs together over the years. Identifying these values allows them to keep delivering pieces which are recognisably ‘Dior’.
Each rooms has its own sense of the wow factor with the paper cut flowers room, displaying some of the more romantic pieces amongst the flowers which were dripping from the ceiling. The center piece of which is this gown embellished with hundreds of tiny cut feathers.
We can not cover this exhibition without mentioning the toile room. Probably the simplist room with its ehite cubes, it really brings home the process of producing couture garments and the work that goes into them. It is lovely to look around and recognise some of the dresses you have already seen the final versions of, in their developmental form. As well as taking the time to watch the series of videos they have on display amongst the toiles which show the making process of other Dior producs such as shoes and jewellery from their specialist makers.
From an embroiderers perpective, there is plenty to see and appreciate in this exhibition. The variety of styles and techniques is huge so whilst all the pieces may not necessarily be your taste, you can not help but be humbled by the skill.
Some of the more contemporary pieces provide a different perspective on ‘les petite mains’ (the little hands; referring to the skilled makers that create the designers vision) that we get to see a modern application of traditonal skills such as the use of beads and velvet in this a line evening gown.
If you find the opportunity, then this exhibition is a absolute must see for fashion, design and embroidery fans everywhere. Follow the link for all the booking details.
All photos courtesy of Natasha Searls-Punter
Dior: Designer of Dreams
The Victoria and Albert Museum, London
On now until 14th July 2019
We are delving back into the archives to revisit this really fun project we worked on for designer Hasan Hejazi in 2012. We were asked to create baroque inspired tonal cut work for three bespoke luxury evening dresses for pop goddess Marina from Marina and the diamonds. The project included some exciting names including Tim Bret Day (Photography), Thomas Knights (Film) and a suit for the designer by London tailor Gresham Blake.
Our designs and drawings were based on victorian florid ornament something that is very good to translate to cut work. The initial designs and refining took a long time and the annotations and notes for the embroiderers even longer as there was so much detail involved.
The embroideries were executed in cutwork in colours to match the dresses with a fade to either lighter or darker. There were also a few crystals scattered about to add a bit of light.
The dresses were then put together over four days ready for the photo shoot.
Before the event we hadn’t seen any of the dresses, so we were very excited for the launch. The first we saw was the full length red piece which marina wore for her performance at the beginning of the night.
She then changed into the blue knee length dress which is our personal favourite !
The final pink dress was saved solely for the photo shoot, which you can see in the photos below. It was lovely to get a chance to flex our cutwork drafting muscles this thoroughly, so we are very grateful to Hasan for getting us involved ! A wonderful project all round.
The 1930s followed the decade of the roaring 20’s, with the Wall Street crash in 1929, the years that followed saw a great deal of change for Britain and America. With the 1930s, came the beginning of WWII, the end of the Jazz Age and a dramatic change in fashion in accordance with the economic and political transformations of Western society.
This exquisite exhibition is based around a single collection (courtesy of Cleo and Mark Butterfield) consisting of 1930s daywear and eveningwear. The exhibition began with an array of classic dresses, would have been at the height of fashion in the 30s. The impact of the Art Deco movement (which took its name from the international Arts Décoratif et Industriels Modernes held in Paris in 1925) on fashion in the 30s was profound; it was characterised by highly stylised natural and geometric forms. Something that struck us as soon as we walked in was how much the fabrics used to construct the garments were angled towards the act of wearing; specific fabrics such as satin and crepe were used to glisten in the lights of a nightclub – the wonderful art of using materials for their glamorous properties!
Evening Gown, early 1930s, Satin. Wonderful ruffled open back gown with gathered bow motif.
Glamorous. Chic. Timeless. Three words that instantly spring to mind when a vision of floor length satin and crepe gowns appeared like a mirage through the walls of the fashion and textile museum. These liquid satin, bias cut gowns – pioneered by Madeleine Vionnet – ooze sophistication and sensual night-time glamour. On the dance floor of the 1930s, everyone was equal; all class, economic and racial differences were left on the side lines.
Cinema became part of everyday life in the interwar years; Cinema buildings popped up all over the country; housewives would be able to view a matinee screening and still be home in time for the children! The silver screen was an immense factor in the glamorisation of evening wear fashion in the 1930s and the rise of ready to wear garments; cheaper fabrics such as lamé were favoured over traditional embroidery, which was not quite as decadent but almost as lustrous.Evening gown, early 1930s, satin. The glamorous style was reinforced by Hollywood during a decade of luxurious films that provided the much needed escapism from the realities of daily life.
In the room called ‘Whistle! While you work’ it was clear that the major shift in working class women becoming mass consumers was aided by media outlets such as magazines, it was explained how this shift has been an important factor in how we shop today. The popularisation of department stores and the philosophy of ‘make do and mend’ in the austerity of The Depression also led to a much more accessible ‘Ready To Wear’ trend rising. This revolution in ready to wear clothing could be seen of as a factor in our current fast-fashion crisis.
The 1930s gave way to the act of shopping (usually in department stores) and window-shopping becoming part of popular culture. The advancement of technology and women in the workplace (pre marriage, of course, due to the ‘marriage bar’ forcing women to resign from their jobs when wed) meant that fabrics could now be produced on a much larger and therefore cheaper scale.
The finale of the exhibition wowed us with a patriotic display of all things red, white and blue to commemorate the coronation of George VI. An interesting note which helped us imagine the atmosphere of the day was added in the exhibition guide: ‘Hotels were full to the seams and many people who wanted to catch a glimpse of the royal coach resorted to sleeping on pavements and in the parks, creating camps and latrines, which author Virginia Woolf likened to scenes of the Crimea.’
The exhibition was a delightful insight in to all things 30s, from the glitzy gowns of the dancehall floors to the realities of women being barred from the workplace: a truly comprehensive experience!
By Jessica Strain. All photos by Jessica Strain.
Night & Day: 1930’s Fashion and Photographs
Fashion and Textile Museum
83 Bermondsey Street, London SE1 3XF
Open Tuesdays to Saturdays, 11am–6pm
Thursdays until 8pm
12 October 2018 – 20 January 2019
Children under 12 are free
Last month, The Worshipful Company of Broderers held a fashion show, dedicated to the best of embroidery in British Fashion. Hawthorne & Heaney was invited to be involved and naturally, it was an opportunity that could not be missed.
The Worshipful Company of Broderers is a livery company, dedicated to the protection and promotion of the art of embroidery. Also known as ‘The Brotherhood of The Holy Ghost of the City of London’, it was originally formed in the middle ages, receiving a Grant of Arms in 1558 and its first Charter on 25th October 1561 from Queen Elizabeth I. Charitable works lie at the core of the company as it functions today, with the fashion show acting as a fundraising event for their charity; Fine Cell Work and the Broderers’ Charity Trust. Fine Cell Work teaches needle-work to prison inmates and sells their products. Established in 1997, Fine Cell Work now operates in more than 15 prisons to empower and rehabilitate inmates in preparation for their sucessful return to society.
On what was a very balmy September evening, the company gathered beautiful examples of british embroidery work from well known designers such as Bruce Oldfield, Clements Ribeiro, Jasper Conran and Beulah, one example of which can be seen above. The show was held in the crypt of St Paul’s Cathedral, London with the ladieswear mostly demonstrated beadwork with an array of evening gowns on show (as seen above).
The first features a circular dove motif on purple with silkworks for the center and a cutwork edge.
The second piece was this striking pair of rampant lions on red.
For more information on any The Worshipful Company of Broderers or Fine Cell Work, follow the links in the text above.
What were you doing last week? Specifically 9-13 May. Did you manage to catch London Craft Week? Well, it’s alright if you missed it, because we are here to share with you what we did and learned!
This festival that spans across London celebrates British and international creativity. Covering a vast range of disciplines, it brought together over 200 established and emerging makers, designers, brands and galleries from around the world.
We started our journey in the heart of English bespoke tailoring- Savile Row. The Row that is entrenched deep in history, famous worldwide, houses over 100 craftsman in more than a dozen bespoke tailoring business. It is a community that not only produces the esteemed English luxurious product but is active in training new craftsman. We had the chance to attend an hour-long masterclass pattern cutting at Henry Poole & Co. In the brief hour, taught by one of the cutters about dinner jackets, he engaged us on the construction of the trouser pattern. First, measurement was taken off a gentleman in the room, then he moved onto crafting the pattern. Primarily using the Centre Front Centre Back cutting system, where scales and mathematics are used to give proportions so as to draft for the body of the customer.
After the hour, we gained a heightened respect for the craft of tailoring. Behind one jacket, it involves roughly 10 artisans, who engage in the making of the various sections of the garment. They perfect the moulding and shaping of the fabric so that it sits perfectly on the body. Bespoke tailoring suits are certainly a class of their own in both elegance and comfort.
Next, we ventured down to Sloane Square, to discover Maria Svarbova’s photography series that was the inspiration behind Delpozo Spring Summer 2018 ‘Musicalia’ collection. We were blown away by the beautiful photographs, that has this retro-futuristic. The artist describes the series as having a sense of ‘artificial detachment’, although set in a retro environment, ‘the pictures somehow evoke a futuristic feeling as well, as if they were taken somewhere completely alien.’, the moment is frozen in time. In addition, the symmetrical composition enhances the ethereal quality.
Looking at the collection alongside the photographs, there is much resemblance in the colour palette. Creative director, Josep Font skillfully translated the swimming pool blue that ripples throughout the photographs, into the choice of the fabric and embroidery. Complimenting them with pastel shades of yellow, pink, and definitely the shocking red, there is a sense of a dreamlike atmosphere.
In addition, the geometric lines and stillness of the pool, reminds us of the intimate atmosphere at the atelier; cool, architectural and beautiful, a style synonym with the brand.
Lastly, we headed to the Loewe Foundation Craft Prize at the Design Museum, that will be held till 17 June. This exhibition best summarises craft and artistic endeavours all over the world. Exhibiting a range of international works that stretch across practices, such as ceramics, papercraft, woodwork to jewellery. Entering the exhibition, visitors are provided with an audio guide, that gives a detailed explanations about the works, aiding further appreciation and understanding of the craft in view.
One theme that ran throughout all the works exhibited is that there are continued efforts made to revive traditional techniques alongside pushing the boundaries of the skill. An example is a winning piece by Jennifer Lee, who mixed metallic oxides into clay to create colour, a technique that she discovered. Complimenting this avant-garde colouring technique, with an ancient practice of pinching and coiling clay, it resulted in the creation of a beautiful speckled surface. The varying gradient of bands that encircle the piece, resembles time frozen between traditional and contemporary.
Another work, that we truly appreciate is by Takuro Kuwata’s Tea Bowl. Unlike traditional potters, who often aims to hide any cracks in their work, Kuwata defies that norm. He enhances the impression of chaos, that is natural to the unpredictable nature of ceramics, by making it the feature point of his work. By combining porcelain with platinum and steel, he challenges the possibility of materials. The melted and crack surface of the work is complemented with the saturated green patina, that makes the work contemporary and elegant.
Embroidery is also celebrated at this exhibition! Richard McVetis, who is captivated by the meditative nature of the process, draws with needle and thread. He embroidered sixty cubes over the duration of sixty hours, materialising time into something tactile and visual.
Perched on 60 beams, the 60 cubes remind me of the globe of islands, but in a square. It is a rather fun way of curating the world and plays on the idea that the world is not round but square.
London Craft Week is truly a celebration of hands that spans multiple disciplines. It makes us cherish and esteem the time and energy that goes into crafting beautiful objects. Unlike mass produced items that are often regarded as disposable, the work of the hand interweaves personal stories and beauty into everything made. In this age of mass consumption and disposal, we are glad that there is a renaissance in the appreciation of creativity and craft worldwide. We at Hawthorne & Heaney, are definitely standing behind that resurgence and hope to safeguard the shared heritage of craft.