Hand & Lock, Second prize, open category, Anastasia Brown

Anastasia Brown | Goldwork Embroidery

The Funk Files: Embroidery Frontiers

Every year, Hand & Lock organizes a competition for the prestigious Prize for Embroidery to promote the use of hand embroidery in fashion and to discover emerging embroidery talent. The 2015 brief was about the individual design identities of Countries.

On Thursday, the 5th of November, London’s Bishopsgate Institute hosted the final of the 2015 Hand & Lock Prize for Embroidery.

Today we’ll meet the second-place winner in the Open Category.

Name: Anastasia Brown

Location: Scotland. Australia at the moment.

School: Newham London

What made you want to enter this competition?

This is well-respected embroidery competition, and I’m going to lie if I say I didn’t want to get an award like that.

What motivated your choice for your entry?

Embroidery is a very specific, unique area of design, and I want to be that kind of specialist: unique and damn good!

Who was your mentor, and how did s/he help with your project?

I never met my mentor. I wasn’t even present at the awards ceremony (I got a job in Japan and moved there a week before the final. My friends attended though.)

Are there any secrets you can now reveal about your entry?

No secrets.


Hand & Lock, Second prize, open category, Anastasia Brown
Hand & Lock Prize for Embroidery, Second place, Open Category: Anastasia Brown


What was your first embroidery or textile project ?

Balmain Fall 2012 collection. I was at university at that time in Paris and really, really didn’t like it. So I thought the only way to learn something is to be in a fashion house, and I was lucky enough to get internship at Balmain.

It was in February, just a month before the show. Very stressful and busy time. I didn’t know anything about embroidery (quite ironic because Balmain is all about embroidery) but had to man up and convince myself that I do understand and know what to do even though I didn’t. To my surprise, it worked! The tricky thing is you don’t have the right to make a mistake. Balmain is the place where you have to work a lot, and you better do it bloody good if you want to stay there. And at some point they asked me to stay. I dropped out of university.

After Balmain was Viktor&Rolf. Basically, everything I know about embroidery is not from school or classes.

What has surprised you?

The fact that everything is possible. Even if you think it’s not, there’s always a way to challenge universe and achieve what you’ve planned.

What non-embroidery, non-sewing skills do you bring to the table that you might like to combine with embroidery, textiles, and fashion?

Any design project is a combination of different subjects. Never had a favorite one.

Describe your ideal career.

At the moment, my ideal career is being a senior designer in a respected fashion house. But the appetite grows by what it feeds on. I reckon when I accomplish this task, I’ll want something different.

So far my work is a contribution to other designers’ work. The Hand & Lock competition is my first personal project.


Hand & Lock, Second prize, open category, Anastasia Brown, closeup
Detail of Anastasia Brown’s prize-winning entry.


Rapid-fire Round: (Don’t think too hard about these.)


Favorite embroidery or textile medium: Fur, metal, corals

If your embroidery were cataloged with books, what genre would it be (romance, mystery, horror, history, psychology, something else)? My mum is a physicist. She used to engineer robots for the space industry and believes everything’s got to have a scientific approach. So my genre would be science. Mathematics, to be exact.

Design a thread. It’s the only one you can use for the next three years. Of what is it made, and what color is it? Metal string. Orange or dark blue.

What stitchable motif would you choose to represent you and your life? Any nordic/celtic/geometric motif

You’re asked to create a garment or accessory for an animal. What is the garment or accessory, and what is the animal? Kangaroo (I’m in Australia, so that’s predictable). Multiple rings for the claws and diamond muzzle.

You must include something live in your next project. What do you use, and how do you incorporate it? A wolf walking beside a model… Hope that counts because I really don’t know what to say.

There are no wrong answers in the Rapid Fire Round. Or in the whole interview, come to think of it!

If you were not a designer, what would you be? Surgeon

You must turn a song into a costume. What’s the song, and what’s the costume? Walking in the air. Great song. White coat.

Name a place you’d like to visit: Greenland and Papua New Guinea

A celebrity wears something you’ve made to an awards show, and you receive fame, fortune, good health, fitness, and cake for life. Who is the celebrity and what does s/he wear? Tilda Swinton or Uma Turman. But in terms of embellishments it probably will be Snoop Dog. Hahhahh!


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