Needle, thread and dreams

Needle, thread and dreams
Rhinestones, sequins, bugle beads, crystals: clothes next Winter will be as precious as jewellery. Fashion rediscovers the artisanal craft of embroidery and turns it into wearable contemporary art.
Text Antonella Reina

DELPOZO_FW16_LK24This year, simplicity has no place in fashion and style is precious. Taken to the extreme in the 1980’s, it completely vanished amidst the minimalism of the 1990’s, and is now the exclusive prerogative of Haute Couture and a romantic, dreamy mood following a somewhat spartan fashion period, embroidery has reclaimed its place in the limelight, and adopted the role of the embodiment of a new interpretation of the concept of luxury, while having strong links with jewellery manufacturing right from the very beginning.

Big brands and new designers alike have started to make use of this enchanting craft in an increasingly multi-faceted way, the result is exclusive, original creations. Evidence of this can be found in the next 2016-17 Autumn/Winter collections in which embroidery, freed from its nostalgic shackles, plays the leading role in various contemporary interpretations.

BalmainLook-41It is both dreamlike and bold in the collection by Antonio Marras, rich with noble adornment, fabrics and ruffles combine, lace edging, precious plastrons, pleating inserted within embroidered fabric. It reveals its surreal, pictorial side in Delpozo’s sculptural garments, adorned with eccentric floral applications.

It turns into a pop, visionary trend for Valentino’s pre-Fall collection, which includes dresses and outfits with leather inserts and embroidered sequins. It is pure obsession at Fendi, where Karl Lagerfeld turns it into the sinuous movement of waves for furs with inserts, into ruffles which penetrate mini dresses, in maxi rouche which burst out of pleated skirts.

It embodies feminine sensuality in the collection by Alberta Ferretti, which evokes the atmosphere of the beginning of the 1900’s via sumptuous velvet pyjamas and silk with lace inserts and evening dresses with embroidered flowers. At the House of Balmain it is celebratory, glamorous and hyperbolic, the collection has been designed for life in the limelight, on the red carpet, at parties, at the Oscars and the Golden Globes. It has a definite British slant at Gucci, it is original and modern, playful, cheeky appliqué abounds.

There is a definite gypsy vibe at Elie Saab who mixes boho-chic with extreme luxury: his long lace dresses are embellished with trimmings, ruffles, fringes, to create an idea of decidedly carefree wealth. Finally, it is hypnotic and magical on the opulent dresses by Alexander McQueen, and reveals its darker, silken side.

DELPOZO_FW16_LK32The decorative energy coming off some of the latest catwalks has its roots in groundwork already done by some of the big fashion houses. For example, in 2012 Dior bought Ateliers Vermont, a famous workshop of expert embroiderers who have worked with the most famous designers since the 1950’s and today are at the service of the French fashion house.

This historical workshop is determined to continue the original mission of its founder, who way back in 1956, declared: “We have the skills to embroider a dress with thousands of sequins or pearls… All sewn by wonderful nimble figures because the embroidery in our atelier is still done by hand, like it was back in the 18th century”.

BalmainLook-30The Maison also keeps the art of fine jewellery alive by promoting work performed in its atelier at 30, Avenue Montaigne, where expert craftsmen make creations designed by the Artistic Director Victoire de Castellane for Dior Joaillerie. First they make a model from green wax then they produce the piece of jewellery and painstakingly mount the stones.

The Metiers d'Art project, launched in 2002, allows Chanel to celebrate the savoir faire of seven traditional ateliers, including Lesage, one of the most important embroidery houses in the world, and Desrues and Goossens, two master jeweller’s workshops, where more than a hundred artisans work on decorations for garments and on eight jewellery collections per year, while maintaining the level of precision, elegance and sophistication that distinguishes Chanel from other fashion houses. And Valentino doesn’t disappoint either: the atelier in Palazzo Mignanelli breathes life into veritable masterpieces, crafted by small, deft hands, exquisite embroidery which is as precious as it is ethereal and delicate.

iIt's a short leap from fashion to art. Tactile works and manual skills have secured a prominent position in the imagination of contemporary artists. Take Francesco Vezzoli, he has found a truly innovative, inventive way to express his devotion to embroidery: for the past twenty years he has been using the crochet technique to embroider gold and blood red tears on doilies featuring his favourite film icons.

His works, like new fashion and jewellery pieces made by young designers, are the result of absolute dedication which turns ancient knowledge into modern experimentation and have the power to shift people’s attention from the general shape to the surface but without it turning into superficial consideration. Beauty has never been so deep.

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