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Between Yesterday and Today
This year Hand Embroidery makes a serious come-back to disrupt trends and defy mass production
by Tsitaliya Mircheva
During this last year the pandemic humbled the world and made everyone rethink their buying decisions. In the fashion world the traditional format of fashion weeks was disrupted, and designers were no longer under pressure to create new collections for every new season. Suddenly the fashion crowd stopped speaking about trends and instead focused on what’s already in their wardrobes, refreshing and re-styling their old clothes and accessories.
With many artists, designers, and customers becoming more and more mindful of the environment, reusing clothes by decorating them with embroidery is both fashionable and marketable in 2021.
At the same time there are fashion designers who’ve been using hand embroidery for years now to tell stories, to define culture and even to tell time using the basic needle and thread. In ancient times in the Ukraine for example, embroidered shirts were made encrypting sacred symbols to preserve the history and identity of people.
The elements of the embroidered shirt have a very strong impact on the life of the wearer.
Geometric patterns denote the elements of nature and the fertility of the earth, while floral ornaments have long symbolized family happiness and maternal love. It’s not only the shapes that are symbolic in embroidery, but also the canvas and its colour. In old traditions snow meant virtue and purity, red symbolised vitality, green - nature and peace, and black - sadness and longing.
From generation to generation masters of the needle and thread would pass on the secrets of ancient crafts. For example, threads for embroidery were once dyed only with natural dyes, such as bark, roots, leaves and flowers. To fix the color, the threads were baked in rye dough so they didn’t lose colour for decades. Today there are around 250 types of embroidery stitches based on 20 techniques.
Making embroidery cool again
Today many designers and big fashion houses are using hand embroidery and old stitch techniques to craft their masterpieces. Chanel, Alexander McQueen, and Karl Lagerfeld have created many, now iconic, looks, inspired by the beauty and craft behind this extraordinary art form. But beside them there are other fashion designers who use hand embroidery to encompass time, history and culture. They also use it as the supreme antidote to huge mass-production and quick, cheaply manufactured stuff. In the last few years the fashion crowd, it seems, has started paying attention and appreciating the personality of these pieces that you can never create with a machine.
Currently celebrated as a playful and sincere gesture of modern fashion, embroidery, like many of its flower pieces, is blooming.
Maria Gracia Chiuri, creative Designer of Dior, used the same hand embroidery technique as Nina Leuca in her dresses!
Here are some of our favourite designs that are accessible and wearable for any conscious fashion woman with an eye for unique statement pieces:
Find out more about each look by tapping on each image.