The design concept for Kintsugi Persephone revolves around showing natural cycles (seasons, life, death, emergence, decay) using natural materials and on-hand items from my stash. I've loved mythology since I was learning to read, and Persephone is not just a symbol of youth or spring, she is a goddess of cycles and life as a whole, which inherently includes death and decay. The choice to dip dye the muslin chiton was intended to highlight the way seasons and phases of life bleed into each other and come full circle. The belt is even more so intended to display the circular nature of seasons, with sections representing Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter. The shining gold lamé was used for my attempt at a Fortuny Delphos because underworld deities are also gods of wealth, so the gold is just below her surface. I added the peeks of gold to repair the chiton's dry rot because of the symbolism personally and artistically involving Kintsugi - treating breakage and repair as part of the history of an object, rather than something to disguise, an embracing of flaws. That felt like a metaphor for how I am trying to see my life as well, particularly over the last 3 years.
My design and construction process ran from March to late September. I researched conceptual terms, then sketched ideas based on the concept that resonated most with me. I tested a food-based dye on swatches before choosing to do cochineal based on research and the fugitive nature of food as dye. I began with the gold lamé fabric, twisting and coiling and boiling and baking it to create and set pleats. I kept it coiled from March until September, when I unrolled it, cut it in approximate halves, and hand stitched hems and the lace neckline in place.
The tiara was completed in the spring, and the belt completed in June or July. I began dyeing the muslin for the chiton in early September, and because of the resources I had, started with boiling water but let the material hang in the dye bath for about 11 days total, changing how much fabric was actually in the dye. I love how it took up the dye in a way that looks like the inside of a geode, but exposing it to the humidity and acidity of the dye bath for that time frame seems to have caused dry rot in certain areas, which led to me using remnants of the pleated lamé to create a Kintsugi effect by hand sewing patches to the inside of the chiton. The rolled hem on the chiton and side seams of the Fauxtuny were machine sewn; everything else in this outfit was done by hand.
Cotton muslin, cochineal, gold lamé, lace, twill, various flowers and beads, metal and gemstone elements for the tiara.
What was it like to compete this year? What would you say to someone who is on the fence about entering next year?
This year's theme was so cathartic and educational and I feel it helped me grow as an artist as well as learn some things about myself.
Very happy to see someone thought of my favourite goddess for this theme! The colours fit her (and you!) perfectly! Very creative!
I think there is at least one other Persephone in our party of entrants! It's really hard not to think of her and of mythology with this theme! Thank you for your kind remarks!
You captured her very well, the gold is such a nice touch <3 well done
Thank you, Kitty!
This is beautiful. I love the ombre effect, and the tiara sets everything off so well. How did you make the tiara?
Thank you, Rossanne! I basically just attached a headband to the rhinestone leafy bit, added jump rings to a couple spots, added jump rings to the black flowers, and used thin gold wire to attach the rose on the center front and the pomegranate seed garnets. Looks complex, but was mostly just me fiddling with my pliers!
Cool concept, and I love this collar piece!
I enjoyed reading about all of the processes you've gone through for this Maeri. The dye effect is really exciting and it's lovely to see how you develop year on year.
Laurel A Price
The gradient and the color you achieved is so beautiful! I love the symbolism you've placed everywhere in the dress, and the way it looks when you move is beautiful!
This looks so ethereal and divine! I love your use of texture—that Fortuny technique really paid off; it looks fantastic!
I am so tickled by your comments. Thank you! As I worked on the Fauxtuny, I received comments from folks about how I "should" have done the pleating, but I liked my experiment and I am pretty pleased with the gilded statuary feeling it gives me. <3
The way the pink fades down into the white is lovely and the gold accent really ties it together.
A beautiful outfit, I love the effect you acheived with the natural dye and the glints of gold. Simply lovely!
Oh those textures! so juicy, the natural dyed colours and gold leaf work so well with your interpretation of the theme
I love the use of the Kintsugi in the chiton! It fits really well with the theme of renewal as well. The effect of this outfit is amazing overall. Great job!
This is delightful! I love the hints of gold and the texture and colours of the outer fabric and you have photographed it beautifully. Well done, Maeri!
Lovely interpretation of the theme. I love the way you have used colour, you created some really amazing shades! Stunning!
Yes, embracing the flaw!! Wish I could do that. You look like the Queen of the forest! Great interpretation and I love the timeline of its creation - gives it a story. Lovely work.
Thank you, Caroline! It was hard to do that, in some ways, because I know there are so many keen eyes in the group/judges. But it felt very personal to embrace the breakage and highlight it. I've felt broken myself the last few years, and am trying to find my light again. <3
I have to say, I am so impressed by all the participants . I feel so inspierd to join next year.
I love your inspiration and the way you executed it!! I especially love the way you patched the damaged fabric with gold <3 The colours and movement of your dress are stunning. All the research and work was totally worth it! Well done.
The entire time I worked on the gold/black pieces, I thought of you, since it's your signature scheme. Thank you for the kind words!
The ombre effect is lovely you have put a lot of time into this and it was worth it. Great job.
Really nice work!
Yeah dyeing! It's thrilling, isn't it? The finished garment is really beautifull!
I do enjoy dyeing & painting-- though I am not sure I want to play with cochineal again. I love the colors it makes, but I don't love knowing what I am grinding to make the dye! :) Thank you for your kind words!
Loved following you processes on Instagram and the naturally dyed colours have come out perfect! Very ethereal and stunning result! I love all the details you have added as they all compliment each other perfectly.
The dye effect is so striking, and I really like your use of the gold as a means of repair and celebrating the journey instead of trying to completely conceal it. The belt is one of my favourite parts adding a lovely contrast!
There are so many wonderful ideas in here, it looks beautiful and I love the symbolisms!