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Silhouette en Dentelle 10 March 2018

Mal Burkinshaw in collaboration with Sophie Hallette Lace 

‘Silhouette en Dentelle’ – Series 2013-2017

Sophie Hallette Lace, hand appliquéd onto tailored jackets in nylon netting.*

Mal Burkinshaw’s series of jackets were produced in response to the body shapes and garments of sitters in the portraits of the  Scottish National Portrait Gallery’s Reformation to Revolution Gallery. Sources of inspiration include Margaret Graham, Mary Queen of Scots, James VI & I, Lady Arabella Stuart and Lady Agnes Douglas.

Lace Unarchived

Mal Burkinshaw Silhouette en Dentelle Jacket 7

The use of lace directly relates to the centuries of continuous craftsmanship involved in making this delicate material, which was a signifier of wealth, status and hierarchy in the Renaissance.  Black lace, in particular, was favoured but is rarely seen in portraiture of the time. This work thus reinstates and celebrates the wearing of black lace during the Renaissance.

In collaboration with renowned lace producers Sophie Hallette, his work creates a dialogue between past and present notions of “normalised” body shapes through a metamorphosis of silhouette and scale, by fusing the modern classic jacket with renaissance fashion.

The jackets were designed in sequential scale, and do not conform to specific UK size measurements and are designed to be non-gender specific, asking viewers to question their perception of beauty relating to body size.

The jackets are the result of over 800 hours of embellishment. Mal used a large light box, collaging intricately cut motifs of lace, which were subsequently appliquéd by hand onto contemporary ‘high-performance’ netting. The process of creating each piece was both reactive and instinctive; in a sense each jacket has been ‘painted with lace’.

The practice led garment research technique departs from the usual practice of fashion design that involves draping fabric on the mannequin (an ‘idealised’ model body) and working to traditional garment sizes. Instead, garments are developed that are, while recognizably clothing, independent of the body, acting as artefacts in their own right. In Beauty by Design, this way of working was brought to bear on garments depicted in renaissance paintings.

Lace Unarchived

Mal Burkinshaw in collaboration with Sophie Hallette Lace, photographed By Stuart Munro

These garments, boned, corseted as they were, distort the body shape of the wearer in distinctly un-modern ways, bringing into question, over time, our own conceptions of beauty. Burkinshaw reinterpreted these garments in transparent fabric, further dramatizing the tension between the shape of these clothes themselves and the bodies that might wear them. The work is designed to open multi-layered contemplative questions relating to body image, beauty, gender, identity and sexuality.

*presented for Lace Unarchived as a video projection

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