Not just any old English embroidery company, Hand and Lock are the Royal embroiderers, makers of all the rich and intricate ceremonial military goldwork that's so familiar it's hard to really see. But what I love most about this company is that, after 250 years (they are currently celebrating their sestercentennial! Not many can say this), they are more relevant than ever.
The huge-windowed studio in London's West End buzzes with young persons (nearly all at H&L are under 30) stitching an inscription on a boxing glove ("HELENA. UNLIMITED YOU") or a silver braid horse for a rocking horse saddle (!), or tambour work for one of the many designers who commission them (on the right, Mary Katrantzou and Burberry. Also Chanel, Vuitton, Givenchy, Hermès, you name them...).
H&L also hold the world's most important--and richest-- embroidery competition, have a concession in Topshop where they patch, rip and monogram the jeans you just bought (I know. Irony), produce historically correct or riotously embellished pieces for theater and film and stars--Marilyn Monroe's red sequin dress in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes? Michael Jackson's military jacket? Wicked's Wizard of Oz? Queen Elizabeth II's throne cover? Hand and Lock. They embellished totes for charity in a carpeted trailer in Carnaby Street, stitched Miss World's sash --and Mr World's-- and sewed all over an M16 Assault rifle for Peace Day.
They are The Establishment, but they are carrying embroidery into the future, an evolving, growing leader of the textile world.
Now, despite being the single most posh and important embellishment house in the universe (not an exaggeration), Hand and Lock are all set to do your mending. Here's their first one, but you can go as high and mighty as you like.
Watch this space for ordering details.
London-based mixed media textile designer and artist Karen Nicol is quite simply one of the world's best, and best known, embroidery artists. The holder of multiple awards, Nicol... View full details