Lady of Decay



Helene Maria Skovgaard

(click images to to enlarge)

Outline the story …

As an artisan, what connects me the most to nature are the wonderful materials that it provides for me to pour my creativity into. I wanted my entry to be an ode to the natural fibers that have protected and decorated people for millennia. To achieve this, I set myself challenges: to create an outfit entirely in the naturalistic colours of the raw materials and that every element from fabric to thread to button must be 100% natural and therefore biodegradable once the days of these clothes are over. I wish to repay nature's generosity by ensuring that my creation will not pollute it.

Another facet of my identity that connects me to nature is my Estonian heritage. Historically referring to themselves as simply ''people of the land'', my people lived in harmony with nature. They revered spirits of nature and their places of worship were sacred groves, rivers, lakes and boulders. Many still keep these traditions in their own ways, including me. To celebrate this, I decided to incorporate elements of traditional Estonian folk clothing into my garments. The most prominent of these are the floral embroidery motifs on the jacket, originating from Muhu island costume. I chose two kinds of decorative lace from the archive of the Estonian National Museum to crochet for this outfit. And last, but not least, I used a striped fabric for the skirt as a nod to the most iconic and widespread Estonian garment: the women's striped skirts of the 19th century.

Outline the construction…

My entry consists of a jacket and a walking skirt. The patterns for both were drafted according to the Keystone system. A difficulty I didn't expect was adjusting the jacket to be worn over modern underwear, since I plan on wearing it as everyday clothing. It took three mock-ups to achieve a comfortable fit. I omitted the centre-back seam to not have it interfere with the embroidery, which also gave some difficulty with the fit. To make up for the lack of structure a corset would provide, I reinforced the front of the jacket with tailor's canvas. The canvas is also used to stiffen the collar and the hem of the skirt. The skirt is made of seven panels and hand-hemmed. The back is pleated for extra volume. It closes with the help of buttons on the waist-belt.

The main bulk of the time spent on this project went to the embellishments. It took a great deal of planning to display a variety of florals without their characteristic colours. The challenge of expressing a specific plant in monochrome definitely made me appreciate the impact of texture in clothing a lot more. Crocheting the lace challenged my patience, but it adds a much-needed variety of texture to the clothes.

The materials: linen herringbone twill for the jacket and front panel of the skirt, cotton lining for the jacket, striped cotton for the skirt, cotton/linen blend tailor's canvas, woollen embroidery thread, cotton sewing thread, linen crochet thread, wooden buttons.




  1. Avatar Desirée Desirée Holmberg on April 26, 2023 at 9:05 pm

    I strive to be able to make THIS! Truly stunning and the fit is magical.

  2. Avatar Denise Denise Hendrick on April 28, 2023 at 9:11 pm

    I love all the texture here and the tone on tone embroidery is simply stunning!

  3. Avatar Y'hanna Perez-Ortiz on May 1, 2023 at 9:38 pm

    The crochet you added to the garment looks amazing! I never thought of using crochet in this way. You have opened my mind to new possibilities.

    • Avatar Eirik Pellock on May 17, 2023 at 10:27 am

      OK this is insanely good. So detailed and we’ll thought out. WoW this is a piece of art. I want to look at it all day. I want to see and feel every detail.

  4. Avatar Christiane Christiane Edel on May 5, 2023 at 8:57 am

    Beautiful all around! Great fit, wonderful embroidery and the crochet trim is such an inspiration – I especially love the “tail” of the jacket.

  5. Avatar Sofia Sofia Duarte on May 8, 2023 at 8:51 am

    Stunning! Beautiful. You gave so much color to this garment playing with shades and textures. Incredible how it looks so simple at first and then you just get lost in all the details

  6. Avatar CC Page on May 11, 2023 at 5:32 am

    This is so beautiful. I love how you’ve got so many gorgeous, intricate details and yet the outfit still looks elegant and almost simple. I love bright colours, but the natural colours work so well for this, and it really stands out.

  7. Avatar Joey on May 15, 2023 at 7:05 am

    Loved the embroidery on this, beautiful piece

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