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The Divine Jester

In July 2017 Mooshi Couture entered the annual Hand & Lock Prize with its Divine Jester costume. The design featuring embroidered harlequins inspired by the costumes of medieval jolly jokers was to be a three piece costume incorporating our red tulle couture halter neck top which we completed in early 2017.

Sadly, our entry did not make it into the final but the concept still holds value as a source of inspiration for a future couture project. I’d like to share with you the design brief I prepared for my Hand & Lock Prize entry which will now be used as a source of inspiration for a new couture piece.

Embroidered Tulle Halterneck Top by Mooshi Couture

The Divine Jester 

5 July 2017

Mooshi enters Hand and Lock Prize embroidery competition with it’s fun and play submission entitled “The Divine Jester”!

The annual hand embroidery event draws entries from all over the world. in 2017, the theme for the competition was “fun and play” and the celebration of heritage and innovation. The theme is in recognition of Hand and Lock’s 250th anniversary as a British institution of fine hand embroidery heritage and tradition. So with this theme, I designed a hand embroidered outfit representative of history past and present in a spirit of fun and celebration underlined with a mood of melancholy and the need for spiritual reconciliation and renewal.

Drawing on a primary source of inspiration found in nature, I designed a three-piece outfit that was not only an aesthetic response to Hand & Lock’s brief but a female characterisation of the theme; a character that embodies meaning, emotion and movement through playful humour and fun. The character was a female jester. The primary source of inspiration taken from nature and developed into a narrative of symbolic icons was the three leaf clover.

The three piece outfit features my recently completed red tulle halter neck bodice. Hand embroidered stretch tulle knickers with a billowing harlequin appliqued tulle skirt and embroidered stockings complete the set. By using sheer tulles to create a costume representative of a historical character typically symbolic of fun and play, the design contrasts tradition with the modern age. In medieval history, jesters were typically identified as male. Here I wanted to portray the jester as a female, suggesting female empowerment and the freedom of female expression in the modern age.

The following narrative was put forward in my submission to Hand and Lock.

The Divine Jester

In history, the three leafed clover is associated with the Shamrock, The Trinity and Christianity. The underlying message symbolised by this icon is the residing of one divine God in three entities; the underlying message being that we are all one and that there is unity in division.

We live in a time of fear, grief and apprehension. Our faith in a divine source no matter what the denomination, is being challenged. We are in the midst of death and rebirth, change, uncertainty and constant aggression. Our way of life, our values, and our identity are under threat.

We find solace in nature and in the joy of humour that liberates us from evil, death and destruction. Order and harmony can be found in nature through golden proportions and patterns. Subconsciously we are able to find respite and joy in the creation of nature.

The sacred power of the number 13 (and identified as a golden proportion number) is recognised throughout history as divine. Thirteen is a unifying vibration, it is the Christ with the 12 disciples. It has been associated with the Divine Feminine, and there are 13 months in the lunar calendar and in music. A scale is composed of 13 notes¹.

Joyful abandonment by the human spirit is found in the history of costume through the medieval jester, the Ziegfeld Follies, the circus and in music. The Divine Jester draws inspiration from these sources to draw strength from joy and faith in the renewal of happiness. As a female jester, the goddess within her is free to express herself with reckless abandon. She does not mock the pains of the world but seeks to restore and celebrate the human spirit which finds the greatest joy in union, peace and love.

The Divine Jester

'In an era of aggression, fear and paranoia, she draws strength from her jovial pursuit of happiness and a faith in divine union, peace and love for all mankind'

 This narrative is represented by the symbols (iconography) shown in the following images which when placed in Fibonacci sequence from 1 to 13 form the design of the stockings for the Divine Jester costume.

Three Leaf Clover
Christian Holy Trinity

Fibonacci 1: Three Leaf Clover and The Trinity

At the base of the sequence is the number 1: the three leaf clover is at the foundation of the source of inspiration, the Shamrock, Christianity and The Trinity: The Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit. One God in three Divine entities, Union.

Fibonacci 2: Wings

Symbolic of the Dove which symbolises The Holy Spirit. Wings also symbolise freedom, escape, and exhilaration. A higher perspective of the world.

Fibonacci Wings
Fibonacci Sun

Fibonacci 3: The Sun

Three radiating beams of light from the sun; the rising sun, the setting sun. Symbolic of the life force that brings warmth and comfort.

Fibonacci 5: The Heart

Symbolic of love, a heart in the fifth position represents family: two adults and three children.

Fibonacci Heart
Fibonacci Clef

Fibonacci 8: The Clef

A musical note representing the pattern of a scale of notes, the rest in between notes. Silence, peace, begin again.

Fibonacci 13: The Moon

The Divine Goddess. Traditionally associated with the Divine Feminine, there are thirteen full moons in the lunar calendar and thirteen menstrual cycles annually. The thirteenth letter of the alphabet is M representing mother, Mother Mary, Magdalene.

Fibonacci Moon

The following images were also a source of inspiration for the design.

The Annunciation, Leonardo Da Vinci 1472-1475
The Annunciation, Leonardo Da Vinci 1472-1475
The Theory of Golden Proportions
The Theory of Golden Proportions
A Medieval Female Jester Illustration
A Medieval Female Jester Illustration
Ziegfeld Follies
Ziegfeld Follies

The First Sample ... embroidered silk velvet harlequins on tulle

The Divine Jester Harlequin Embroidery Inspired by The Jolly Joker at Mooshi Couture
Hand dyed silk velvet harlequins with lace trim and beading
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Hi...I'm Olivia! Welcome to Mooshi Couture - Vintage Inspired Couture and Hand Embroidered apparel. I design and make one-of-a-kind vintage inspired and vintage reproduction couture apparel. I also teach tambour embroidery. My talent has been recognised by Hand & Lock in London who have offered me an internship in their atelier. Contact me to inquire about my couture services and tambour embroidery classes!

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