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 third-place winner in the Fashion Student Category.
Name: William Lathrop
Location: Currently… Providence, Rhode Island
School/year: Rising Senior at the Rhode Island School of Design in the Apparel Design Dept.
Describe your Hand & Lock entry:
It was tradition that each year the sophomore class had to do a project called “Re-Innovative” where we took a material not typically used within the fashion or textile industry and created a garment out of it. For my look I knew I wanted to use silicone, because I wanted to create a garment that looked like her body was tattooed, but have the tattooing actually be hand embroidered. I started with a box of this material that I had to mix up and make sheets of. The idea behind the look was that everything was to be handmade or hand done by myself. It’s sad they just got rid of the assignment, my year was the last year to partake.
What made you want to enter this competition?
It was actually pretty random. I was having a lot of emotional turmoil over this piece, because the faculty were telling me not to do it but I really wanted to. Then one day I was sitting in our departments lounge room and saw the poster calling for submissions and knew it had to be fate and that I had to make this look.
What motivated your choice for your entry?
Definitely the faculty telling me not to do it, I love to piss them off (I hope they don’t read this, lol.) But also my mom, she had just passed away right before I was starting this project, and knew that she would love it, had she been around to see it completed.
Are there any secrets you can now reveal about your entry?
Lol. I actually embroidered the words “mom” with a heart around it into this piece. Although, I don’t even know if I would be able to find it again.
When and how did you learn embroidery, sewing, etc., and what impression did it make on you?
I know it’s going to sound cliche, but it really was my mother who got me obsessed with it. My house growing up was covered in embroidered wall hangings and pictures, and she would always just sit on the couch sewing or embroidering something. She by no means would claim to be an artist, but she definitely was looking back now. Also she was obsessed with flowers, and so am I, can’t be too coincidental. She definitely will always be my number one source of inspiration.
What was your first embroidery, costume, or textile project?
This actually was…
What made you want to study fashion and textiles in school?
Growing up I was always obsessed with fashion, and the way that it could change a person’s personality. Like this last collection I was just working on, my models LOVED their looks and it definitely gave them this added boost of confidence, which I loved, and which is really what I want to do. I just love to make clothes that make people feel incredible, so fashion really just seemed naturally the only choice.
To date, what’s been your favorite course of study?
Tailoring. I’m kind of a nerd for math and calculations so I love patternmaking, and then tailoring is all about the perfect fit and getting it super precise. Also, it helped that my teacher was incredible too.
What non-embroidery skills do you bring to the table that you might like to combine with embroidery?
I guess my “non-embroidery skills” would be my construction skills. I love to make garments and then embroider and embellish them to make them completely unique.
Describe your ideal career:
I would love to just be able to make custom outfits for bands and performers. I’m super into music and am always going to shows and concerts. I would love to be able to work with an alternative band like MGMT or Portugal. The Man.
What projects are on the horizon for you?
I just got done a project working with Swarovski Crystal and Varsity, a cheerleading uniform company, designing a custom collection of uniforms. In August I have the esteemed honor of being able to go to the Saga Fur Design Center in Copenhagen to learn how to work with fur at industry level. Then come this fall I get to start my senior thesis collection, which should be fun, but is also terrifying to think about.
Where else can we see your work?
Best place is my website. I try to keep it as up-to-date as possible. I also have an instagram account that you can be linked to through my website.
Rapid-fire Round: (Don’t think too hard about these.)
Favorite embroidery or textile medium: Anything silver and metallic.
If you could work with just one color for the next three years, what would it be? Black, definitely black.
What stitchable motif would you choose to represent you and your life? Either the Cadillac logo, because it has so much history within my family, or a floral motif. I’m just obsessed with plants and 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? I would love to have lunch with Emma Watson, she seems so grounded and knows that she can help make a difference with her fame both socially and then even within fashion, knowing the importance of the move we have to make to becoming more sustainable as an industry. And then what would we eat? I haven’t had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich in a while…
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? The movie is Hocus Pocus (I’m obsessed with witches) and my favorite outfit? Hmm, I guess I would have to see what I made to be able to pick a favorite.
You must include something edible in your next project. What do you use, and how do you incorporate it? I actually almost did this once. I wanted one of my models to just stand there and eat like a Honey Bun or Little Debbie cake.
If you were not an artist/designer, what would you be? A history teacher.
You must turn a song into a costume. What’s the song, and what’s the costume? Wow this is such a great question I can’t even answer this.
A place you’d like to visit: Washington State. Seattle has an incredible music scene and then the woods and forests look so majestic.
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? No clue, but let’s talk about that lifetime supply of cake…
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.