The New York embroiderer started sewing as a hobby – and then Drake, Vogue and Stella McCartney became fans. WGSN Denim Editor Samuel Trotman reports
If you’re a denim Instagram fiend like me, chances are you’ll already be following Marie Sophie Lockhart of @lockhartembroidery. Based out of New York City, the Parisian has been busy brightening up vintage jeanswear (and our insta feeds) for the past year with her eclectic and whimsical takes on 1970s-style embroideries.
Following in a similar thread to the classic book American Denim: A Folk Art and the famous 1974 Levi’s Denim Art Contest Catalogue, Lockhart brings these retro embroideries forward for today with her quirky stick (or rather stitch) n poke style needlepoints that borrow from the raunch-in-jest style drawings of 1950s Sailor Jerry style tattoos – which she credits her professional tattooist husband as inspiration.
In 2015, Marie earned her insta-fame when Drake Instagrammed a pair of her jeans with the rappers infamous OVO clasped prayer symbol on the back left pocket. Shortly after Drizzy returned to get some more goods stitched up including a bomber jacket with a pair of prayer hands on the back. As you can imagine, it didn’t take long for the pictures to circulate and fans across the globe (including us) flooded to her page to discover more than just a pair of holy palms.
The Good For Nothing page is a rabbit hole of denim inspiration, and you’ll find yourself trawling through the vault of intricate and equally amazing embroideries Marie had been documenting since her first, a playboy bunny. What started out as a personal past-time soon developed into projects for friends then friends of friends and then superstar rappers. The rest is history.
While Lockhart will “embroider everything on almost anything” her main canvas has been denim, most of which she now gets her orders requested on. Those orders can be anything from a spliff smoking Tweety Pie to tons of 1970s style rainbows – all of which have appeared on everything from time-loved truckers, slouchy 501’s and hip-hugging flares.
The fun and charm of her needlework comes from the cheeky motifs alongside the stunning mix of vibrant threads layered over retro bright casts and vintage stonewash denims. Her nifty needlepoints have spread like wildfire throughout the denim world and beyond where’s she’s already landed herself on Marc Jacobs’ SS’16 handbags, collabs with stores like on local NY label 3×1 and London’s Browns showroom as well as an upcoming project with Stella McCartney.
With so much going and more in the pipeline we got in touch with Marie to find out more on her sought after crafts. But before you head off into the interview check out this exclusive short film “The Good For Nothings” (filmed by Jer Robert Paulin) featuring herself and her crew of equally stylish NY friends. Think The Warriors but with 1970s girl gang chicks instead…
WGSN: You started off with some personal embroideries for yourself and friends. What was it about your style that resonated with people?
M-SL: I think at the moment there is a high demand for special one of a kind pieces custom made for people. There is something really special about this work ethic because the imperfect work of a single person’s hands is so valued in the 21st century where everything is mass produced. My friends appreciate the way I take thoughts, fantasy, and elements of history and then turn all of that into something visual and unique.
When did you start working on denim and what is it that you like most about working on the fabric?
I started working on denim from the beginning because denim is such a classic and versatile piece of fabric. It made sense because I could find inexpensive vintage denim in vintage stores and it was less expensive than buying canvas and I discovered it was much more fun to work with.
You’re a keen drawer and you’re husband is a tattoo artist which really comes through in your work with the Sailor Jerry references. What is it you like about this tattoo style?Tattooing is an ancient art tribal people have been practicing since the beginning of civilisation. The first tattoos had really strong meaning and were supposed to be magic and symbolic. Although I love Sailor Jerry references, tattooing is so much more than just that. Tattoos and embroidery have very strong similarities in their patterns, like in India where certain designs were supposed to bring fertility or prosperity or protection from the evil spirits, or they were related to nature. Those patterns were both made on the skin and on fabrics. Tattoos and embroidery have the same effect of empowering people in their own skin and by their clothing.
There are also a lot of 1970s inspirations which was obviously the golden of embroidered denim. Is there anywhere in particular you get your inspiration from for these pieces or do you freestyle/improvise?
I take inspiration from many eras but the 1970s is one of my favorites because I feel like it was such a time where music, love and art flourished. I really like the psychedelic history and it just seemed like people thought in a different way. But I do try to modernise and update this inspiration and mix different eras together.
What’s been your personal favourite embroidery to date?
It’s like asking me “What’s your favorite colour?” I love every colour!
Since your interview with Vogue and obviously the big hit with the Drake pieces, are you now doing the embroidery full time?
Most of my days are now filled with embroidery and I feel really grateful for that, but I enjoy the balance of also doing other creative things with my time too.
Are there any further collaborations/celeb pieces in the pipeline?
I am currently working on a big order for a big department store in London and at the same time I am working with Stella McCartney for a special event across America. Many more projects are to come for 2016, it’s pretty exciting.
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