Every year, Hand & Lock organizes a competition for the prestigious Prize for Embroidery to promote the use of hand embroidery and to discover emerging embroidery talent. This year, sponsors added Textile Art categories to the traditional Fashion categories. The 2016 brief challenges participants to create quality design that consumers will cherish for years and that will stand the test of time.
On Thursday, November 3rd, London’s Bishopsgate Institute hosted the final of the 2016 Hand & Lock Prize for Embroidery.
Today we’ll meet the second-place winner in the Fashion Open Category.
Name: Elena Savelyeva
Location: Moscow, Russia
School: Academia Italiana (Florence, Italy), Ecole Lesage (Paris, France)
Describe your Hand & Lock entry:
See-througth long dress covers all the body, with delicate handmade silk flowers and ripped chiffon giant flowers, mixed with a rain of white beads and spread of lace circles and pearls. And, of course, head piece fully covered with handmade fabric flowers.
What made you want to enter this competition?
I love competitions. It is so inspiring. For me it is like a puzzle, but it is not only for my brain . . . hands, too.
What motivated your choice for your entry?
My 2016 work was inspired by Salvadore Dali paintings, where very often we can see a woman with a head full of flowers, and the beauty of vintage undergarments.
Are there any secrets you can now reveal about your entry?
Not in my nature to keep secrets. However, sometimes this works against me.
When and how did you learn embroidery, sewing, etc., and what impression did it make on you?
Sewing is in my blood. I cut fabric without any patterns when I was 6 yeas old. My mother could not believe it how I could visialize all patterns in my head. Embroidery and many different crafts learned constantly since then. But unfortunately, when I grew up, I realized that there is no fashion in the Soviet Union. And I changed my life by moving to the USA and working in a totally different industry. But after 30, I came back to my crafting, and my first visit to Ecole Lesage totally blew my mind. Since then, no day passes without embroidery!
What was your first embroidery, costume, or textile project?
Crosstitching when I was six.
What made you want to study fashion and textiles in school?
It is in my genes.
To date, what’s been your favorite course of study?
Level 3 Haute Couture in Ecole Lesage
What non-embroidery skills do you bring to the table that you might like to combine with embroidery?
Flowermaking, painting, featherwork, knitting, hand shoemaking, sculpting, weaving.
Wow! That table overfloweth!
Describe your ideal career:
To sell embroidered outfits and embroidered shoes in top level boutiques. To sell my artwork in art galleries worldwide.
What projects are on the horizon for you?
Half of my time is occupied with orders from my clients, the other half is taken by completing my work for my ideal career.
Where else can we see your work?
I have a high-class clients, and spreading info about my work for them is not welcome. For me, it is not good, but I can understand my clients. None of them want to advertise me in their circle. I am a secret master! Ha-ha! But for now you can see a bit on Instagram.
Rapid-fire Round: (Don’t think too hard about these.)
Favorite embroidery or textile medium: Art Decorative Paris
If you could work with just one color for the next three years, what would it be? Grey
What stitchable motif would you choose to represent you and your life? Flowers
You are making lunch for the artist of your choice—and s/he will love it. Who is the artist, and what are you making for lunch? Leo Bakst, Russian pancakes with sour cream and caviar
A studio is remaking a movie, and they want you to design the costumes. What is the movie, and what is your favorite costume in it? Hercule Poirot, ladies dresses. I love the art deco era.
You must include something edible in your next project. What do you use, and how do you incorporate it? Orange peel skin. Cut out different shapes, dry it, and attach as sequins. The outfit will smell like an orange garden!
If you were not an artist/designer, what would you be? A casino shift manager on a cruise ship. I actually was one!
You must turn a song into a costume. What’s the song, and what’s the costume? It would be something from Enigma, and it would be probably a cape with a hood, purply-blueish-black color, with silver and gold embroidery.
A place you’d like to visit: In my life I have visited 56 countries, so i have done my traveling! I feel like I would like to come back sometimes to Florence, Paris, and London for inspiration. And to the Caribbean for relaxation.
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? I hope to see it in the next few years… Helen Mirren, Emma Watson, or Scarlett Johansson… It would be a 50s-inspired skirt suit, pale color, and matching shoes, and maybe a small head piece . . . or possibly a 30s Hollywood long dress, with giant sleeves and delicate embroidered birds.
Jen Funk Weber is Queen of Funk & Weber Designs, a cross stitch and counted-thread embroidery designer and teacher dedicated to stitchy explorations and adventures.