Ever since I had clasped my eyes on the magical work of Marit Fujiwara back in July (a quick Google search tells me that Fujiwara’s work has run the full gauntlet through the blogosphere), several other textiles ‘artists’ have been making their way into my Picture folders. I put ‘artists’ in inverted commas because I *think* these people might prefer the term ‘artisinal’, that what they do is a craft but of course more so than constructing fully functional garments that we wear, using embroidery and appliqu√© as their tools, they create swatches of work that in their own right could well be positioned in an ‘art’ context.
What I’m most interested in though is how these textile artists transfer their work into wearable formats and whilst all three have themselves taken varying levels of steps towards placing their work in more of a recognisable fashion context, I think it needs to be said that all three have also been employed by labels and other designers as collaborators, the usual route where textile artists’ names go largely uncredited. Still, I think it’s great that more and more textile artists are becoming known for their work in their own name and since the hullaballoo over the likes of Marit Fujiwara, I’m sure people will be scoping out the textile arts grads quicker than ever…
First up, Anita Quansah, whose work some of you might have seen on Shrimpton Couture’s vintage site where the lovely Cherie is ever so quick off the mark to commission reworked pieces. Quansah is London-based and is a Chelsea College of Design textile grad who has collaborated with the likes of Christian Lacroix (it’s evident why Lacroix employed her skills from her work!), DKNY and Diane Von Furstenberg. She’s passionate about using reclaimed textiles to work them into her intricate embroidered pieces and seems to love building up a story with her fabrics that are loosely inspired by nature and garden elements. What I love about Quansah is her appreciation of depth in her textiles and that there is this build-up of what seems like a million remnants, so that you can no longer pick out the original fabrics which I guess is her intent. To be fair, Quansah has done a splendid job placing her textiles work onto lavish dresses and chiffon tops for Shrimpton Couture but I’d love to see her work rigorously placed in panels on tailored garments or perhaps worked into accessories and shoes. I’m sure these are all in the pipeline though given Quansah’s impressive CV.
I think I escaped for a bit when I looked at Chromium Dumb Belle‘s website. Johanne Burke, the artist (that’s from her own bio) behind Chromium Dumb Belle has been embroidering and appliqueing weird and twisted fairytales onto a variety of backgrounds for years. Unsurprisingly, she contributed to Biba’s first debut collection after their reformation (wonder how she feels about its demise?) and has also written/illustrated the book ‘Biba Dolls’. I quite like how she terms her work as ‘art-to-wear’ and this is where Burke definitely makes you fixate on the subject depicted on the garment rather than the garment itself. She seems to have a penchant for magnificent magician’s capes that look really good for flinging around dramatically Merlin-style. The subjects of her embroidered works stem from gaudy fantasy, theatre and warped history and they all seem to have this uneasy darkness underlying the bright colours, metallic threads and satin-y jolly fabrics. I must demand whether Burke has started up an Etsy shop because I can well see the necklaces below being sold – belts, tops with extended collars and sleeves and of course, it goes without saying, the wonderful capes could make their way there too, all dusted with Chromium Dumb Belle magic.
I came across the work of Sina (correct me if I’m wrong if this isn’t the label’s name) through a copy of So-En magazine which I treated myself to from the Japan Centre (I easily drop ¬£50 when I’m in there…EVERYTIME) and whilst I have scant information to offerup due to my inability to read Japanese, I can say that this Japanese embroidery textile artist has already made sure her work is available in various forms… bags, simple tops, muslin floaty things, hanker chiefs… as well as offering up her services to the likes of Japanese label writtenafterwards for collaboration. The fine paint-stroke type embroidery reminds me a little of the work of Jiwon Jahng except with a greater penchant for animal motifs and a delicate pastel palette. I love the pieces where Sina’s embroidery graces very simple muslin jackets, shirts and breton stripy tops because they look so unexpected yet fitting at the same time. The looser and sheerer the garment, the better it seems, as the embroidery really comes to life.