A modern classic: antique lace transformed with emergent technology.
Envision a form we are accustomed to seeing as a fragile, formal, delicate thing — lace — reimagined, transmuted, reinvented, in metal or in other 3D printed materials, rather than in tedious hand stitches. Traditional lace acts fluidly, taking the form of that on which it lays. Imagine if lace became structural: bridging the old and the new, creating authentic, timeless, and unequivocally modern, 3D printed jewelry.
Breathing new life into an heirloom.
The concept of TECHlace has been fluttering around in my mind for a while now, constantly brushed off to the back burner. With new motivation, I sought out a precedent piece of lace with strong conceptual potential. Passed down by my mother-in-law, the lace handkerchief once belonged to her grandmother, a certain Bessie Agnes Rowe. Legend has it, she was quite the “clothes horse” in her younger days, back in the 1890s.
The handkerchief is composed of four lace corner emblems, which frame the plain central field. Embellishment obscures a subtle underlying form: the simple shape of a butterfly, or its nocturnal cousin, the moth. There are two sets of wings, an abdomen, and a head, complete with curling antennae. While moths are often deemed pests by fashion-lovers, and butterflies have been cheapened by kitsch, the iconographic use of moths and butterflies has endured across time and global cultures. As noted in Taschen’s The Book of Symbols, “From ancient times the butterfly [...] has signified not only the mystery of physical metamorphoses, but also the loveliest transmutations of the soul.” Thus, this symbolic metamorphosis is apropos: a fashion lover’s 1890s lace handkerchief is reinvented as a contemporary, 3D printed jewelry collection.
We are tech lovers, and trend followers. Trends have the transience of moths and butterflies, but technology evolves faster than insects. We can now harness the forms of traditional lace, once tediously crafted with needle and thread, reinventing them in a myriad of materials. TECHlace is at once classic and unequivocally modern, breathing new life into an heirloom.
Hey, there Fashion, meet Tech.
When we introduce new manufacturing technologies to fashion, a careful balance must be found: a point of harmony between technology and style. First out of the blocks are stunning pieces that highlight the technology itself. These bleeding edge examples can be evocative; however, too often they celebrate form alone, without a strong conceptual foundation.
Instead, each piece should tell a story, should strive to become a modern classic. For hundreds of years lace has evolved little, but maintained its position in the world of fashion. TECHlace bridges this gap: it draws from a timeless element of fashion, and has a strong conceptual foundation, all while leveraging the benefits of an emergent technology.
The three pieces comprising the TECHlace collection are just the beginning. Each was derived from a single antique lace handkerchief, at a single scale. We have only begun to explore the possibilities embedded in those stitches: to unravel the history, to deconstruct the technique of lace-making, to weave those stitches into our time.
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