From Traditional To Catwalk, The Rise Of Embroidery

Resurrect your needle and thread for an art worth rediscovering

Words by Emma Connell
October 23rd, 2017

When the word embroidery comes to mind it always reminds me of my home economics class back in school. Weaving the sharp needle in and out of my neatly cut Aida cloth with maximal precision, I watched in awe as my blank canvas came to life in a small kaleidoscopic hoop. I now look back on this fondly, realising how gratifying this activity really was and how much this old-fashioned technique has come along since then.

The decorative form of art has been around since man began to wear clothes with it originally been used to attach different materials together to make one solid garment, gradually this process progressed into a design form we are all too familiar with today and thankfully with the help of the hand embroidery machine, fashion houses were given the luxury of creating for mass production.

The list of 21st-century designers continuing to choose this old-fashioned method of adorning goes on, but in particular, this season where we have seen beautiful artisanal displays delicately laid on Prada’s mohair cardigans and knee-length skirts with coloured beads forming three-dimensional patterns. Similarly, floral motifs were present on the flowing dresses of Simone Rocha, where pops of red offset the delicate chiffon material, yet a more playful element was recognized with the botanical shapes resembling child-like motifs.

Prada AW17
Simone Rocha AW17
Gucci AW17

Renowned for creating visionary explosions of embroidery from season to season, Gucci once again produced a heavily adorned collection full of statement motifs with a specific focus on the art of entomology. Jackets and unforgettable oversized capes possessed decorative outlines of sequined blooms surrounding a hummingbird in flight.

Over the past few seasons the influx of stitch techniques at the forefront of decorating garments not only on the catwalks but among a new generation of Instagram entrepreneurs hasn’t gone amiss, scrolling through your feed it’s hard to avoid the number of accounts dedicated to using this otherworldly method. James Merry who quickly gained a cult following in a matter of weeks by combining the world of fine art and athleticism created a bespoke organic element to an otherwise standard slogan sweatshirt. Another game-changer, Marie-Sophie Lockhart created a one of a kind embroidered jacket for Drake after he direct messaged her account. She has since found her niche for decorating everything from denim separates to hoop art to statement blouses.

What is it about this technique that has sent the world into a stitching overdrive? Judging from my own desire and admiration, I think the appeal of handcrafted clothing and a contrasting element of discrepancy to unembellished garments leads me to believe that people like the miscellaneous fundamentals these pieces offer. Or maybe it reminds us of childhood fantasies with flowers and birds and magical creatures? Or, maybe it’s just the pure escapism that it provides from the mundanity of life as we know it. Either way, a stitch in time is a stitch much loved.


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