Hemp. My absolute favorite material for making bodices. I adore the contrast with silk, the way the smooth, sheer, impalpable chiffons contrast with the rough grainy antiqueness of the vintage hemp.
I collect these one of a kind pieces at vintage markets across northern Italy, they are old, sometimes dating back to the mid 1800. They are handwoven, hand spun, the perfect shade of natural ivory.
After carefully soaking and washing these, we roll them up and store them for future use. They are precious, as no one makes these anymore and will one day be gone.
They were made for the dowries of brides, to be cut as needed, finished by hand, and often embroidered with the couple’s family monogram. Common uses were face towels, napkins, table cloths, bed sheets, beautiful lace-edged night gowns, underwear, aprons.
They are the perfect weight and texture to make fitted and boned bodices, the plain weave and thick texture provides a supple, pliable material which is a dream to work with.
Here are a few examples of designs that feature hemp, and a some photos of brides who chose to wear it:
• The ever beloved Papaver, worn by Maria, Alexandra, Indy, and by Emma
• The fairylike Agapanthus worn by Francesca and by Cailean,
• Helianthus, worn by Amaya and by Serena
• Simple, ethereal Tilia, one of my first designs and still a favorite years later, worn by Jenny, Lauren, Chiara, and by this sweet hippie baby bump
The ones that have a less beautiful hue of ivory we use as innermost layer, the interlining, sandwiched between the silk lining and the outer fashion fabric (sometimes silk shantung or satin). So if you choose a design with a bodice, know that inside, is a piece of Italian history. We got you covered with your #somethingold!
Here’s an example of the hemp not full on, covered by beads, worn by Lucy in Costa Rica.