From Zennor Church to Paris Fashion Runway
When, or if, you think of the absolutely fabulous fashion house Alexander McQueen, handcrafted kneelers in Zennor Church, deep down in Cornwall’s south west, probably don’t spring to mind. But they should.
Sarah Burton, the head designer of Alexander McQueen, who took over after his tragic death in 2010, triumphed at her recent Autumn 2017 Show in Paris this year with gorgeously rich, beautifully embellished dresses that both floated and yet were rooted in the centuries old tradition of tapestry kneelers. Tapestry kneelers that Sarah Burton discovered when she went with her design team to Cornwall and met up with Revd Elizabeth Foot, priest-in-charge at Zennor.
“They originally came to look at our mermaid in Zennor but became captivated by the kneelers,” said Revd Elizabeth. “In fact, one of our ladies was a little concerned as she worried that her needlework wouldn’t stand up to close scrutiny!”
She needn’t have worried, the resulting collection was a triumph, honouring the original designs on the kneelers and the centuries of tradition, prayer and the church embedded in the craft.
Sarah Burton, whose couture team made Kate Middleton’s wedding dress, said, when she took over the fashion house, “I felt this sense of groundedness, of needing to feel the land, and tradition.”
Sarah Mower of Vogue wrote how the team were inspired by the self-determining women who sewed messages into samplers centuries ago. She proclaimed the show, “…staggered the audience with its dense imagery—dresses beaded with silvery trees; white lace figured with kissing doves, medieval tapestries of flora and fauna, trailing threads…” Those doves, by the way, might have been inspired by the doves on the church’s stained-glass windows.
And it wasn’t just the beautiful dresses that the kneelers inspired. Their rich texture, bold prints and distinctive weaves also inspired kneeler shaped handbags and gorgeous tapestry boots.
Who knew that our beautiful county, its rich heritage and the kneelers at Zennor would lead to a sumptuous catwalk show in Paris earlier this year. Why not go along and see them for yourself – who knows what they might inspire you to create?
All photos taken from Vogue