Francesca is a specialised Hand Embroiderer based in Greater London, who is also an obsessive collector. She uses her collections to represent her conceptual ideas of creative storylines brought to life through bespoke hand embroidery. She explores innovative designs producing high quality crafted pieces, always challenging conceptual forms as a wearable art. Her pieces fit in a fashion context, but range from art wear to stage costume. Each collection she makes resonates a personal portrayal of who she is and what she believes in.
In her latest collection, ‘Dollhouse’, Francesca has drawn her inspirations from her love of a variety of dolls which she has collected since she was a child. Her fascination with them is how each doll creates its own character and style based on its appearance and craftsmanship. The collection is called ‘Dollhouse’ because it groups ‘rooms’ for each doll with their own unique character, each recreated in a form of art wear that still connects them all together. Her four main themed ‘rooms’ of her dolls are called: ‘Romanticism’, based on dolls of the 18th century; ‘Fantasy’ which is a mystical representation of the fairies, mermaids and other fairy tale creatures; ‘Puppets’, based on hand crafted dolls such as puppets from different cultures; ‘Plastic’, a kitsch-like representation of quirky and modern plastic toys. Francesca’s collection is best described as a colourful collection of eclectic and experimental designs. She interprets her initial research and ideas by looking at her own collection of dolls and visiting museums such as the V&A Museum of Childhood, London, and Shanker’s International Dolls Museum, New Delhi, India. Mood boards and large paintings based on her research help her push the boundaries of visual interpretation, creating her distinct style in mark making that she uses in her stitching.
Francesca carefully chooses materials and scavenges antique pieces to be reused in her work, creating theatrical narratives of art wear that has its own eclectic individuality and handwriting of mark making. Using traditional hand embroidery techniques such as Goldwork, Needle Lace and Couching in a contemporary fashion, Francesca collages the different techniques in an eclectic and textural manner. Her pieces are not bounded by the shape and form of a classic silhouette, but embrace sculptural freedom in how they are worn. Such as her Puppet-inspired body adornment that wraps itself around the wearer’s body, and her Octopus Hood with bend winding tentacles. In experimenting with the making of the tentacles for the Octopus Hood, Francesca’s process developed and improved with each sample’s progression. She tries new materials and develops the design further, ensuring the concept is represented in its truest form. The Hood comes with a second piece – a veil, portraying a surreal illusion of the wearer immersed in the mystical waters of her conceptual narrative. Surrealism is part of Francesca’s distinct styles, also seen in her Puppets body adornment, where the embroidered trapeze artist on the front is seen to be attached to the wearer using a glove as the shoulder strap. Francesca is adaptive to change when working with unplanned modifications in her work. Her Romanticism piece was initially one Neckpiece yoke with heavy embellished Goldwork and five decorative frames with memorabilia items within attached to the frilling of the yoke. During making, the frilling colour was changed to create a bolder statement, resulting in the decorative frames being used in an alternative way – five individual bags.
In 2019, Francesca met HRH The Queen of Malaysia during her visit to the Royal School of Needlework. Francesca who was raised in Malaysia and is half Malaysian herself, said that she “felt honoured to have met The Queen. In a way, I feel like I have made Her Majesty and my country proud. Her Majesty was so lovely and a delight to talk to, making the whole meeting a pleasure.”
Francesca interned for Manish Arora in New Delhi, India, ‘one of the most celebrated and inspiring contemporary designers in the fashion world today.’ This experience allowed her to transform her textile skills into a conceptual performance art and has given her a clearer guideline in how to work and who she is as an artist. Francesca has freelanced for British Artist Susan Aldworth, Fashion Designer Sadie Williams and menswear brand E.Tautz during her studies on the RSN Degree.