Wednesday, March 3, 2010

10 February - Vikki Lafford, "Enchanting Embroidery"

After reading an article in the Oxford Times Magazine, Alex wasted no time inviting designer Vikki Lafford to talk to the branch about her work. With the programme for the current year already fixed it was a year before we got to hear her story and see her enchanting work.

Vikki’s early interest in drawing and painting was greatly inspired by the abundance of nature surrounding her childhood home and by the fairies and woodland creatures she imagined inhabits the murky undergrowth of the Cotswold countryside. This love of folklore combined with a passion for art and textile led Vikki to achieve a degree in Embroidery in 2002 that led to employment as an embroidery designer. Finding digitizing corporate logos less than fulfilling, in 2006 Vikki returned to education and gained an MA in Textile Design at the Chelsea College of Art and Design. For her graduation collect of dresses Vikki once again drew inspiration from fairy tales but this time from the darker, more sinister, older tales. Elements of her designs reveal the underlying themes of brutality and awakening sexuality found in the many of the older versions, while outwardly depicting the femininity, romance and enchantment of her childhood favourites.

Talia, incorporates three layers of fabric, an outer white layer representing the innocence of childhood that is lifted to reveal the lower layers of pale green and deep green that represent growing sexual awareness. The dress is entwined with flowers and leaves just where the Princess slept was surrounded by forest. The creepy crawlies that inhabit the forest floor are embroidered on lower layers. But the flowers hide the hands of the King who raped and impregnated the sleeping Princess Talia. Only when her second child sucked on her finger and drew out the flax fibre that had caused her long sleep, did the Princess awake.

"Tallia" courtesy of Vikki Lafford

"Tallia, detail" courtesy of Vikki Lafford

The Cinderalla dress is of course a ball gown. The bottom of the dress is stained red. In the version of Cinderella told by the brothers grim, the stepsisters cut of parts of their feet in an attempt to fit the glass slipper when the Prince searches for its true owner. Like Talia, Cinderella is embroidered and embellished with motifs from the many variants of this popular tale.

"Cinderella" courtesy of Vikki Lafford

The third dress Vikki brought to show us was made for, and won second place, in The Spellbinding Textile Competition with the theme of Magic. The Enchanted Woodland Gown is adorned with hand painted silk flowers and delicate, embroidered butterflies while spiders and centipedes crawl onto its dirt stained hem.

"Enchanted Woodland" courtesy of Vikki Lafford

"Enchanted Woodland, detail" courtesy of Vikki Lafford

I found it fascinating to her from the designer/maker the thought processes behind her creations.

Vikki has now started her own business, Liliia, creating feminine, elegantly detailed, hand crafted clothing and accessories in luxury fabrics.