Today is another very special addition to our long line of Lab projects designed to push the boundaries of embroidery and the imagination of our team. This lab project is pretty special for our newest member Danielle, because everything from the embroidery to the dress to the modeling is done by Dani herself!
Starting from the ground up with the designs, UT artist Dani took on a new project perfect for capturing not only the darker sentiments of the season but the inspirations from whole new subculture. She is the illustrator behind the darkly glam new Gothic Gala embroidery designs, and created this amazing project to show just what can be done with them. Similar to a previous October Lab where we explored the subculture of steampunk (a style has been explored often by UT stitchers) it seemed time this October to try something a little more classically gothic to suit the season. Dani is here to show off her amazing creation she designed and embroidered, and to tell us all about the Victorian-influenced style of Gothic Lolita…
“I’ve always been fascinated by the vibrant street fashion that comes out of the Harajuku district of Tokyo. It’s a fashion culture that is brimming with creativity and a certain kind of fearlessness that allows one to don giant Pikachu pajamas in public or to apply grotesque amounts of makeup or to wear the most frilly, lacy, doll-like dress you can find. There are many different subcultures that have roots in the streets of Harajuku, but the one I wish to bring to you today is Gothic Lolita.
Gothic Lolita, sometimes abbreviated as GothLoli, is a style of the more widely recognizable Japanese fashion subculture Lolita. The original Lolita fashion is based on Victorian-era clothing, aiming for frilly blouses, cupcake-shaped petticoats, more lace than is humanly acceptable, and an air of innocence. There are many styles of Lolita, each of which have their own distinct look and take on the modern Victorian-inspired fashion. The Lolita spectrum can range from sweet pastels and stuffed animals to classic, true-to-form Victorian elegance to black upon black and dark frills that mimic the look of a nineteenth century doll.
I decided upon going the Gothic Lolita route because I felt it had the most consistency in style that would lend itself to a series of elegant gothic embroidery designs. And, with Halloween approaching, I figured I could make a kickin’ costume at the same time.
I started with a sketch of the dress, designing some of the embroidery I knew I wanted to have featured into the sketch. It was really nice being able to design the Gothic Gala series and the dress simultaneously, as I could draw pieces to fit together in ways that I knew would be functional for this type of project.
For the Gothic Gala embroidery designs, I envisioned it with an overall gothic feel rather than an exclusively GothLoli feel that would limit the reach of the designs. Rather than drawing in the lacy, frilly elements of the dress, I kept the series more versatile without losing some of the beautiful elegance I drew from the Victorian styling of the Gothic Lolita style. I had a lot of fun piecing different parts of the series together and making them work in conjunction to one another, so that the shapes of different designs work seamlessly with one another, making the series flexible for all kinds of creations. This way, the Gothic Gala series can be used far past the realms of this subculture, perfect for any Halloween project or for that gothic project you’ve always secretly wanted.
While incorporating the designs into the dress, I wanted the skirt to feature the cathedral and gates designs most prominently in the outer layer of the dress, forming a sort of gothic scene along the bottom as they lined up. Originally I had thought of doing an inverted bat centerpiece in the back of the dress, but then I laughed at myself and decided that I didn’t want to torment myself that much. I did end up designing the swoop of roses to line up with either side of the bat design, so the shape constructed by the two pieces complemented the shape of the dress as it opens up in the back.
Then I started the grueling process of actually making the Lolita dress. It had been several years since I had sewn anything, so I did a trial run to make sure I hadn’t forgotten how to do it. Evidently, sewing is like riding a bike, as you don’t quite forget, but you’re pretty much freaking out the whole time and you’re so very exhausted afterwards.
There was still a lot of ripping seams and re-sewing , and I did manage to stitch several pieces of fabric together that were certainly not supposed to be stitched together. Although, the biggest hindrance to making this dress was that my cat wanted to help.
Overall, I’m really excited with how this project came out, and I’m so ready to greet Halloween in proper Gothic Lolita style!” -D
Doesn’t this make you want to just frolic in the forest like a crafty and dark fairytale princess?
Experiments such as this help push our team of artists and designers to make better designs by remembering that these embroidery collections are meant to create projects larger than themselves. There’s nothing better to help inspire a series then by knowing it has to be something flexible and usable on a real sewing project, and these new Gothic Gala designs are sure to take you from frightful October festivities to gothic glam occasions and beyond. For some (especially those in love with offbeat subcultures), October isn’t the only time to add some bats and swirls to your life.
Still, the bright and bold autumn leaves do make a fantastic backdrop to the darker styles, and now is the perfect time of year to experiment with some darker inspirations you may not feel bold enough to try the rest of the year. As always, if you do grab the new Gothic Gala collection, be sure to share with us your dark and beautiful creations. There’s no better time to get stitching!
This project is part of The Lab, a UT initiative to experiment, collaborate and innovate to see just what can be done with the art of embroidery.
Check out our other projects by searching for the UT Lab tag.