Forever Friends

Isabella Thorpe

Isabella Thorpe specialises in repurposing second hand objects into bold and striking fashion pieces. Often pushed forward by social narratives, politics and the meanings held within objects. Her current project ‘Forever Friends’ is centred around discarded toys and teddy bears found in charity shops.

Isabella’s work challenges throwaway society, she has considered studies exploring objects from childhood which embody a child’s affection. Isabella loves to personify objects close to her and contrasts the joyful characters of her bears with suits found in the same charity shops. There are parallels between the significance of bears within childhood and suit jackets in adulthood, which are worn to crucial events such as weddings and funerals. She embroiders the suits with bold and colourful depictions of bears unifying the two discarded items, reimagining them as important objects. Through her embroidery she brings to life the characters within each bear.

Isabella embraces the unexpected when it comes to embroidery, the inconsistency of a linear material lends itself to her design work which is something present within the raffia she uses to embroider the suits, the scale of the thread increases and decreases at random, capturing the expressive marks within her drawings. Goldwork techniques feature heavily within her work, and the metal threads in her pieces are based upon the gold lettering of ‘Forever Friends’ on one of the bears she has drawn from.

Isabella has worked freelance for Alexander McQueen, Zandra Rhodes, Ralph and Russo, Jasper Conran, E.Tautz and completed an internship with Mary Benson London. She has received bursary awards from Victoria Adams Scholarship Fund, Golsoncott Foundation Bursary as well as thread sponsorship from Madeira Threads.

She was a winner of the 20th International mini textile exhibition, ‘Celebration’, and her submitted work was displayed in The Gallery SVÚ, Bratislava, Slovakia. Her work was also exhibited at the Stanley Picker Gallery, Kingston Surrey, as well as displayed at The Knitting & Stitching Show 2017 in both Dublin and at Alexandra Palace, London. Isabella also helped to run a Mr X Stitch Workshop on cross stitch at the 2018 London Olympia exhibition and she was a contributor to Susan Aldworth’s ‘Illuminating The Self’ exhibition at the Hatton Gallery in Newcastle.

Isabella says: “My future aspirations after Graduation are to possibly have a product line, complete a Masters, continue to work for fashion houses and maybe run Workshops. I’m not entirely sure what I want to do yet so there’s a bit of everything!”

Pictures featured here include:

  • a close up of some raffia embroidery on one of my suits for my Final Collection. The mark making and colours stem from my drawings of a discarded toy tiger.
  • an accessory sample I’ve been working on. I’m looking at deconstructing toys found in charity shops. I’ve fully lined the octopus (which I named Dave) and have attached a second hand bag chain and sampled some Goldwork embroidery.


You can follow Isabella on her Instagram page.


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