National Awakening

Emile Donielaite

Emile Donielaite is a designer maker and embroiderer, who is bringing her Lithuanian national heritage and embroidery traditions to the forefront of her practice. It is crucial for Emile to keep both values alive and enable them to evolve and survive.

Her current project ‘National Awakening’ focuses upon the revitalisation of her Lithuanian heritage and traditional costume. Emile’s aim is to make these relevant in the modern day and to motivate a new generation of Lithuanians to explore their own heritage and share this with the rest of the world. The resulting body of work is a clear resemblance to the original costume through the shape and patterns but revitalised into modern fashion pieces.

Emilie has used modern silhouettes to give a fresh look to the traditional costume in combination with using fabrics currently popular amongst the haute couture industry. Embroidery plays a crucial part in the translation of traditional patterns into modern and contemporary elements, also drawing the eye to the detail in the garments. More importantly, however, it tells the story of dying crafts such as Goldwork or Tambour Beading. The monochromatic palette of the costume draws parallels to the decline of the traditional costumes relevance in stark contrast to the original bright colours of the past, symbolising the loss of heritage amongst the Lithuanian people.

Emile combined her heritage with traditional embroidery techniques such as Goldwork which she felt a fitting technique to use due to its decline in use in the modern world, similar to her traditional costume. She includes Tambour Beading amongst the Goldwork to create a more contemporary look by mixing techniques together. Emile creates very tactile pieces using different bead sizes arranged in a graduating fashion, to give the impression of fading, linking to the fading of the traditional costumes relevance. Her pieces showcase bespoke qualities, from her technical perfectionism to her material choices.

Whilst studying at the Royal School of Needlework, Emile had experience with international fashion houses such as Ralph & Russo, Jasper Conran, Catherine Walker & Co. and E. Tauz. Additionally, she was awarded ‘Best Raised Embroidery’ prize in her second year and also a bursary from The Honourable Society ‘Knights of the Round Table’. She is currently sponsored by MADEIRA.


You can follow Emile on her Instagram page.


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