Plinth dress with lace

Finnish costume heritage meets contemporary bobbin lace

Dress design and making: costume designer Laura Hannula
Bobbin lace designs and making: lace artist Tarmo Thorström

Recycled materials and Finnish folk costumes are often in the core of Laura Hannula’s design – and so it was in this case too. The first hand inspiration came from the so-called ‘kivijalkapaita’ (plinth shirt) where the upper part of it was bleached good quality linen and the lower part that stayed under the skirt was hoarse and undyed linen.

All the materials in this dress are either old hand-wowen linen fabrics or cuttings from other projects. Only the laces are fully new. And the laces are chosen and design by Tarmo Thorström to represent the bobbin lace history of his hometown Rauma and more widely the lace history of Finland and all Europe.

This dress leads you to the roots of bobbin lace making because fashion was the primus motor to thrust bobbin lace making technique and style forward. Within the dress the are five different lace blocks that include grounds such as old Flanders and relatively new Emelia and everything in between. The common factor within the laces is the scale. All are made of relatively thick thread (or cord), though there are three different sizes used.

Two reasons lead to use thick thread: 1) Lace made of thin thread doesn’t show off from a distance. Thorström wanted the lace to be seen from afar. 2) When the thread is thick the dress can be washed in a washing machine. ‘This dress is made for use. Such garments need regular washing. Hand-washing is not really this day, so in order to be machine washed the laces need to endure the mechanical washing. Hence the thick thread.’