I feel that to call Alice Whiting
a stylist, which indeed she is, may be misleading. The word calls to mind a woman burdened with armfuls of bags, scurrying around sourcing the correct clothing, shabby chic bread boards and backdrops in just the right shade of mauve; not too pink, not too purple. Working to a creative director's specific instructions; sourcing the goods.
Alice is a stylist by profession. She is an artist by nature. I first came across her work in Polyester Zine
in the form of cakes which straddled the line between saccharine and cyanide (sample icing: "Just another sentimental crisis
") and evoked the kind of abject loveliness which I am very much about.
So when I was put in touch with her about an embroidery commission, I was naturally very excited about working with such a visionary woman. As she told me what the commission would involve, my excitement grew.
Initially Alice simply wanted the words "I still believe in happy endings" embroidered on to a white silk corset. However, the garment she ended up selecting was a 1940s wedding dress. This gave us more room to play with, and Alice decided that she wanted the dress to be embroidered with the names of her ex boyfriends, showing that although the course of true love never had run smooth, she was still a romantic at heart.
I was enchanted with the Miss Haversham echoes and that tension between the sweetly feminine and the overbearing, grotesquely feminine in Alice's idea.
We had a quick email ping pong about fonts and also decided the names of the ex boyfriends would be interspersed with Disney storybook-esque roses in red and pink.
I traced the words and roses and applied these designs to the dress using the ancient pricking and pouncing technique.
I started with the most impactful text, "I still believe in happy endings". I sewed around the outlines of the words in split stitch and then filled them in using satin stitch for density and impact. This technique would be repeated for the individual names of the ex boyfriends. Once the words were filled in, another outline of split stitch was added to make the words crisp.
The roses were completed in the same way, but in analogous pinks, purples and reds.
Alice has since told me that the dress is "one of my favourite things ever", which makes me feel just wonderful! I can't wait to see her style it to perfection.