Frida Kahlo: Making Herself Up – Exhibition Visit

Frida Kahlo: Making Herself Up - Exhibition Visit London Hand Embroidery

Frida Kahlo in blue satin blouse, 1939, © Nickolas Muray Photo Archives

The exhibition Frida Kahlo: Making Herself Up is currently at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London and we recently took the chance to visit. This unique show gives a detailed overview of Kahlo’s life: her family and heritage; her politics; her relationship with mural painter Diego Rivera; the near-fatal accident that caused her a lifetime of pain; and most importantly, how she constructed her image and the way in which she lived her life.

Frida Kahlo: Making Herself Up - Exhibition Visit London Hand Embroidery

Kahlo’s home in Mexico, La Casa Azul (The Blue House).

Upon Kahlo’s death in 1954, her husband Rivera locked up her most valuable possessions in the bathroom of the Casa Azul (The Blue House, their home in Mexico) and instructed that it not be opened until 15 years after her death. In 2004 this bathroom was opened, and the contents of the room went on display at the Casa Azul as a museum dedicated to her life. These objects are what now fill the exhibition space at the V&A, carefully shipped thousands of miles to be shown outside of Mexico for the first time.

Frida Kahlo: Making Herself Up - Exhibition Visit London Hand Embroidery

Frida Kahlo and Family, 1926, photograph by Guillermo Kahlo.
Kahlo challenges gender stereotypes by wearing a suit.

The exhibition begins with old photographs of Kahlo and her family, some of which are adorned with Kahlo’s handwritten notes. Some simply label family members, whereas others are more personal: for example, on the back of Kahlo’s Communion photo she has scrawled “¡IDIOTA!” as she renounced Catholicism later in life.

Frida Kahlo: Making Herself Up - Exhibition Visit London Hand Embroidery

Pre-columbian jade beads, possibly assembled by Frida Kahlo. Museo Frida Kahlo.

The show continues through a series of rooms to Kahlo’s accessories: heavy jade necklaces; crescent earrings featuring paired birds, which are traditional of Mexican jewellery; and hand-woven ‘Rebozo’ shawls and ‘Morrale’ sack bags. These items highlight Kahlo’s pride in her Mexican heritage.

Frida Kahlo: Making Herself Up - Exhibition Visit London Hand Embroidery

Revlon nail varnishes, compact and lipstick in Kahlo’s favourite shade, ‘Everything’s Rosy’.

We then move on to Kahlo’s possessions, perhaps one of the most personal parts of the exhibition. Intimate items are on display such as used lipsticks and empty medicine bottles accompanied by letters to and from her various doctors.

Frida Kahlo: Making Herself Up - Exhibition Visit London Hand Embroidery

Plaster corset, painted and decorated by Frida Kahlo. Museo Frida Kahlo.

Kahlo’s suffering due to childhood polio and a car accident at the age of 18 lies at the foundation of some of these objects. For most of her life she wore uncomfortable corsets to help support her back and alleviate pain, some of which were made of plaster and decorated with painting as Kahlo used them like a canvas.

Frida Kahlo: Making Herself Up - Exhibition Visit London Hand Embroidery

Left: Cotton Huipil with chain stitch embroidery, cotton skirt with printed floral motifs.
Right: Guatemalan cotton coat worn with Mazatec Huipil and plain floor-length skirt.

Finally, the main feature of the exhibition is a stunning display case of Kahlo’s clothing. Kahlo is renowned for her combinations of indigenous garments from different regions of Mexico, and she was photographed in such outfits many times. To see them up close in real life is breathtaking.

Detailed embroidery is present in most of the outfits, from complexly shaded flowers and birds to cross stitch to traditional Chinese embroidery (due to Kahlo’s fascination with Chinatown when she moved to the USA with Rivera). The exhibition gives details of her most striking outfits, describing how she was followed by children when in the USA, who asked “Where is the circus?”.

Frida Kahlo: Making Herself Up - Exhibition Visit London Hand Embroidery

Self Portrait with Monkeys, 1943. Oil on Canvas, 81.5 x 63cm.

There are some of Kahlo’s paintings – mainly self portraits as she used herself as a subject when painting from her bed – but the exhibition mainly focuses on Kahlo’s items and how she presented the complex layers of her identity within her life. It states that her wardrobe was not staged: she dressed up even when she wasn’t expecting visitors, and even when she was in bed rest.

Frida Kahlo: Making Herself Up - Exhibition Visit London Hand Embroidery

Frida Kahlo on the Bench, 1939. © Nickolas Murray Photo Archives.

Frida Kahlo: Making Herself Up is a bewitching and intimate exhibition. The items on display are fascinating, and through them the personal details of how Kahlo naturally lived an artistic life – despite her misfortunes and pain – are revealed. A must-see for anyone interested in textiles, and anyone interested in Frida Kahlo’s complex and inspiring life.

Purchase tickets at the V&A website here.

Written by Laura Hill

Hawthorne & Heaney: Intern Projects

Hawthorne & Heaney: Intern Projects London Hand Embroidery

Hawthorne & Heaney has been very fortunate to have a series of wonderful students who come to the studio as interns to learn about the industry and experience a working studio. But what do they actually do while they are with us I hear you ask?

Hawthorne & Heaney: Intern Projects London Hand Embroidery

 

What they work on day to day is very changeable but for our longer term interns we like them to have a project of their own ongoing whilst they are with us. The gorgeous images you see here are from our most recent intern, Elsie Wong who was working on some floral motifs for us along side her other duties.

Hawthorne & Heaney: Intern Projects London Hand Embroidery

She draws on her Singaporean heritage and Central Saint Martins experience to bring her clean yet delicate style to these pieces. 

Hawthorne & Heaney: Intern Projects London Hand Embroidery

She then went on to translate one of the pieces into embroidery using one of the techniques learnt in her classes at the London Embroidery School, specifically Limerick Lace. 

Hawthorne & Heaney: Intern Projects London Hand Embroidery

Here is is presenting her final piece to us demonstrating the design process from design, to draft, to embroidery.  I’m sure you will agree, great job Elsie! What do you think?

Hawthorne & Heaney: Intern Projects London Hand EmbroideryIf this has taken your fancy and you would like to join us as an intern, please see the internships blog or jobs section of the website for application as we are currently looking for someone to join us for an immediate start.

Hawthorne and Heaney Visits Burberry Maker’s House

Burberry is one of the most acclaimed British fashion houses, and to celebrate their Spring/Summer 2017 collection, Burberry partnered up with The New Craftsmen to hold a week long exhibition at Maker’s House, Soho. This event showcased the best of British craftsmen, designers and makers as well as the latest Burberry collection.

Hawthorne and Heaney Visits Burberry Maker's House London Hand Embroidery

As you make your way into the house, you walk through the garden which is covered in fairy lights with large white sculptures of heads, figures and giant horses creating a magical atmosphere before you’ve entered the building.

Hawthorne and Heaney Visits Burberry Maker's House London Hand Embroidery

The house was divided into sections, the first floor is where the makers set up their studio for the day. Each day there are a new group of makers, from jewelry makers, basket makers and textile designers. Whilst I was there, I was lucky enough to see the work of Shepherds Book Binders, sculptor Thomas Merrett, textile designers Rosalind Wyatt and Rose De Borman and even got to listen to storytelling from Pindrop studios. Watching all of this was very exciting, especially to see the work that goes into their practice.

Hawthorne and Heaney Visits Burberry Maker's House London Hand Embroidery

Downstairs is where they displayed giant mood boards showing the inspiration behind Burberry’s SS17 collection designed by Christopher Bailey. For this collection, Bailey took inspiration from the novel ‘Orlando’ by Virginia Woolf, where in the novel the protagonist’s gender changes halfway through. He also drew influences from Nancy Lancaster’s interior design, using her sense of colour and floral designs.

Hawthorne and Heaney Visits Burberry Maker's House London Hand Embroidery

At the very top of the Makers House is where the Burberry collection was located. Each look was presented across the room with music playing in the background. There was a huge screen where we could watch the catwalk show and this was held here in the Makers House. We found out that even the carpet was bespoke designed for the show!

Hawthorne and Heaney Visits Burberry Maker's House London Hand Embroidery

Hawthorne and Heaney Visits Burberry Maker's House London Hand Embroidery

The colours in the collection ranged from black and gold to soft mint greens and pinks. Shapes and techniques used alongside the colours captured both feminine and masculine qualities and this fits the story of Orlando.

Hawthorne and Heaney Visits Burberry Maker's House London Hand Embroidery

This collection was also celebrated as this was the first time the garments were available to buy immediately after the show. Normally it takes around six months to buy what you see on the catwalk.

Hawthorne and Heaney Visits Burberry Maker's House London Hand Embroidery

This was truly a beautiful collection and a great way for everyone to experience and celebrate London Fashion Week.

 

 

 

 

London Embroidery School does DIY Runway: Chiffon Roses Class

London Embroidery School does DIY Runway: Chiffon Roses Class London Hand Embroidery

Big, eye catching floral fabric manipulations were seen all over fashion week last month and Hawthorne & Heaney‘s partners the LONDON EMBROIDERY SCHOOL are delighted to present the latest in their Couture Course Series with their DIY Runway: Chiffon Roses Class.  This trend can be seen all over the runway this season at Holly Fulton, Christopher Kane and Rodarte, but we think that Dolce & Gabbana took the crown with their oversized 3D roses in brilliant scarlets, pillerbox red and burgundy.

You can learn to make your very own floral embellishment and bring a touch of Dolce & Gabbana Style to something of your own at their DIY runway class.

These Vintage inspired roses are super soft to the touch and can be easily applied to anything that needs a bit of a lift. The London Embroidery School will teach you how to make these gorgeous florals and then help you to apply them to anything item of clothing that you have deemed needs a bit of a spruce.

With the knowledge you will learn at the class you will be able to make these roses in any size and for any purpose. They could easily be applied to a pin or headband or even scaled up for a cushion or another custom interior embellishment.

 

London Embroidery School does DIY Runway: Chiffon Roses Class London Hand Embroidery

Dolce & Gabbana AW2016/17 Look 95