D'Lust

Dream Weavers: Narrative Made

Dream Weavers, Narrative Made, Sharon de Lyster, Asia, Craftsmanship, Fashion, Style, Sustainable, Hong Kong

Narrative Made’s Autumn/Winter 2016/7 collection

Western fashion labels have traded on their craftsmanship for years but now the work of artisans in Asia is being championed by a new generation of fashion designers, including Sharon de Lyster, founder of the womenswear label Narrative Made.

Craftsmanship and culture has been an obsession of de Lyster’s since the beginning of her career. Born and raised in Hong Kong, she studied at London’s Central Saint Martin’s before enrolling at the Hong Kong Polytechnic. After she graduated, she became a designer for Hong Kong based fashion label Anteprima.

A few years later she joined trend forecasting company, WGSN, as a consultant. Her work brought her to rural parts of Asia, where she uncovered a passion for indigenous peoples and heritage craft, laying the foundation for what would later become Narrative Made.

Using her personal connections as well the resources of social enterprises such as Living Blue in Bangladesh, de Lyster began to identify crafts from villages in both China and India that would compliment her vision for Narrative Made.

Dream Weavers, Narrative Made, Sharon de Lyster, Asia, Craftsmanship, Fashion, Style, Sustainable, Hong Kong

Handpleating by the Miao tribe

For her debut autumn/winter 2017 collection she decided to focus on two specific regions, Rangpur in Bangladesh and Guizhou in China. In Ranjpur she discovered Dheu quilting which is known for its unique ripple pattern achieved by hand stitching layers of khadi fabric. The region’s indigo dyeing techniques also caught her attention thanks to their funky patterns and use of sustainable methods that are integrated into the agricultural cycle.

In Guizhou she connected with the Miao tribe, who have no written language and let their fabrics tell the story. Here the women are highly skilled in techniques such as hand pleating, weaving and smocking while their eye-catching blackwork embroidery features a cross-stitch technique using black thread against a white background.

Dream Weavers, Narrative Made, Sharon de Lyster, Asia, Craftsmanship, Fashion, Style, Sustainable, Hong Kong

Narrative Made’s Autumn/Winter 2016/7 collection

Her first collection offers a range of styles that tell different stories and that appeal to various tastes. The shapes are minimal and include button down shirts, skirts, open jackets, oversized maxi coats, blanket scarves and cropped culottes in a muted palette of black, blue, white and splashes of orange. These are then made unique thanks to the fabrics themselves.

For example, a pleated skirt made by the Miao tribe is cut into a flattering A-line shape with gold buttons down the side for a chic look. It also forms the skirt of the casual yet chic Sweat dress which is made from comfy cotton on top. Other separates are covered in abstract blue shibori dyed patterns made by hand stitching the fabric first. A white scarf featuring Dheu quilting is trimmed with a black silk fringe for modern tribal look that brings to mind Proenza Schouler. One of de Lyster’s favourite pieces is the elegant Lantern dress with slits, side fastening buttons and trims made from upcycled vintage Japanese ikat fabric. It can also double as a coat.

To compliment the artisan fabrics, de Lyster has also endeavoured to use only sustainable or upcycled fabrics and natural dyes (they account for 80 per cent of the line).

Dream Weavers, Narrative Made, Sharon de Lyster, Asia, Craftsmanship, Fashion, Style, Sustainable, Hong Kong

Traditional Blackwork embroidery

For now the label is available exclusively online on Narrative Made’s website, which also features a range of educational videos and information about each individual craft. Considering that everything is handmade, prices are reasonable and range between US$100 to US$300.

www.narrativemade.com

A version of this article first appear in the South China Morning Post newspaper.

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