Monday, November 3, 2014

Delightful Details: Embellishment at the Ethnographic Museum in Kraków

When I'm looking at clothing in museums, I'm always on the lookout for Delightful Details -- those little touches that make all the difference in the garment.  I'm particularly drawn to embellishment:  Embroidery, beading, and other types of surface design make my heart sing.  The Polish folk costumes at the Ethnographic Museum were full of embellishment and I tried to capture as many details as possible while I was there.  There is so much inspiration here -- I am excited about the idea of translating these folk designs into more contemporary clothing embellishment and textile art.

Remember that you can click on the photos to enlarge them.  (My apologies for the quality of some of the photos -- it's hard to get good photos in museums at times.)  

This vest features seed beads and sequins to create floral designs and shirt buttons (they look like mother-of-pearl to me) to outline the petals at the bottom of the vest.  I also like the triangle points at the top of the vest, which create an interesting neckline. 


More shirt-button embellishment -- sewn on with red thread, which connects with the red cord (maybe rattail?) looped in between the rows of buttons and the red binding on the vest and on the petals at the bottom of the vest.  I hadn't thought of using the button thread as a color accent, rather than blending in with the button or the fabric underneath.  I am loving the idea of shirt buttons as embellishment, maybe rows of buttons on a cuff, or as an edge detail on a jacket.  I also like the shape of the petals at the bottom of the vest and their thickly overlapped design.  Hmm . . . maybe that type of trim would work at the bottom of a flared coat?

The vest above has rick rack and what look like sequins, as well as a bit of embroidery (feather stitching between the buttonholes).  But I was drawn to the zig-zagged ribbon (or is it braid?) with metal beads in the internal diamonds.  The zig-zagged ribbon connects with the rick rack, but the twist of the ribbon at each turning and interleaving of the different colors of ribbon give a richer and more textured look.  The metal beads are unusual -- I've never seen anything quite like them. 

I like the metal disks (buttons?  beads?) -- again, the use of several rows and patterns works well. The collar/lapel combination is interesting, creating some unusual negative space below the collar and allowing for contrasting fabric in the shaped lapel.  I would probably leave off the tassels; I think they distract from the clean line of the jacket. 


I love this embellishment!  It is so lush and encrusted, but without looking busy or overdone. The embroidery around the beadwork creates a complex texture that visually supports the beadwork, rather than detracting from it.  The repetition of the same type and color of beads, but in different sizes, is an effective way to unify the design, even with the addition of embroidery thread, sequins, tassels, and a few other beads.  It manages to harmonize, where I would have feared cacophony.  One of my dance teachers used to say, if a color isn't working in your costume, add more colors (something I remember thinking about at the Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef exhibit, which was chock-full of many different colors).  Here I see a similar theme:  If an embellishment isn't working in your design, try adding other embellishments (with the principles of good design in mind, of course). 

This vest is lavishly embellished, with soutache, commercial trim, beads, buttons, sequins, and tassels -- but unified through the vertical design lines and limited color palette.  The braid and trim create the main design lines, with the beads and buttons nestled within the braid and providing pops of color -- again, the beadwork is supported by the surrounding trim and braid.  The designer has kept the color palette contained (black, gold, coral, ivory/white, and a bit of green), which helps keep the design from being too busy.  If you zoom in really close, you can see on the sides (far right and far left) what I think is commercial rick-rack sewed down in circles, creating a sort of floral design, with buttons or beads in the center of the "flower" formed by the circle of rick-rack.  Very clever!  I don't think I could wear this to the office, but it would make a magnificent garment for an elegant party.  I'd love to do something similar for a jacket or coat (minus the tassels, though). 

This looks more like the traditional "folk" embroidery I have seen before (both in terms of the floral design and the color palette) -- beautifully done. 

Tassels again, but used more extensively here, with metallic buttons to give some shine and a more linear effect, contrasting with the frowsy nature of the yarn tassels.  The edge of the collar, pocket flaps, and bottom of the jacket have embroidery and commercial trim.  I love the shape of the pocket flaps; those are definitely worth remembering for some future jacket design. Actually, I quite like the overall shape of the jacket -- the flare at the hips is pretty and is balanced by the broad collar that extends the shoulder line.  I might have the jacket fasten at the center with a bit more overlap, but otherwise, I would absolutely wear this . . . maybe even with the tassels.   

The design lines of this vest are very interesting, with the triangular points along the neckline.  I don't think it would flatter me, but I like the effect.  I cannot quite tell how the metallic embellishment was done -- some is commercial trim or ribbon, but the lacy part could be commercial lace or could be some kind of couching/embroidery.  I suspect it is lace. 

I wouldn't have thought to embroider along the pant-leg slit.  I like the bright colors and layered embroidery stitches here.

These aren't the greatest photos, but I like the lines of the coat and the dense embroidery along the edges of the garment.  I want to remember that different motifs can be put together to create a more complex, integrated embellishment design.  I wonder if the designer mapped all this out in advance or created it more improvisationally -- my guess is a detailed design map was created, but a skilled and experienced designer might be able to do it improvisationally. 

I like the arrow design, which can definitely be made contemporary.  I think those are white seed beads, but they might be silver.  The use of a the black contrast fabric, with triangular points (repeated on the cuffs), also creates more interesting design lines for the garment and serves to effectively frame the embellishment.  Again, the garment uses a pretty limited color palette (black, red, white, coral and whatever color the sequins are -- I can't quite tell).  I'm not sure I would have used the coral-colored buttons -- I'd like to see it with black buttons to keep the color palette even more contained.

One of the reasons I wanted to take so many photos at the Ethnographic Museum was to be able to look at the design elements more closely and at my leisure.  I knew that I would find inspiration in the photos for future garment designs and embellishments.  Looking closely at the design elements and the Delightful Details really helps me think about how to create effective garment designs.  It also makes me want to pull out my embroidery thread and beads and get stitching!  I hope you found some inspiration here, as well.  

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