Sources: Caller Times – By Rob Boscamp | All Things Michael
Tucked away on an unremarkable road, just to the north of Oxford Street’s fast-fashion hustle, Hand & Lock is keeping alive the historic tradition of hand embroidery.
The history of Hand & Lock begins with M. Hand, a Hugenot refugee lacemaker from Flanders, who added embroidery to his services when he founded M Hand & Co in 1767. Spending much of his time occupied with ceremonial work for the military and royalty, he eventually gained the royal warrant. Then, in 1956, a young designer called Stanley Lock was working for the 1898-founded CE Phipps & Co, creating embroidery for the top fashion designers of his day, such as Norman Hartnell and Christian Dior. Taking over the reins when Mr Phipps retired, Lock boldly renamed the company after himself. In 1998, Alastair Macleod (himself from a family of tailors) acquired M Hand & Co and, in 2001, merged the two businesses to produce Hand & Lock, combining Hand’s stately decoration with Lock’s stylish flair.
Today, the mix of traditional versus high-fashion work covers military, royal and ecclesiastical commissions to jobs for designers including Burberry and Anya Hindmarch. While commissions from the clergy can involve restoration work of historic pieces, the team was recently approached to design an altar cloth from scratch for a church in Westminster. Likewise, military orders placed daily from around the world (for the RAF, US Navy and Royal Marines, as well as enthusiastic collectors) are mostly for standard beret badges, epaulettes and aiguillettes, but recently the house was asked to create a badge for a new regiment. Theatres order runs of handmade synthetic braid to mimic the goldwork for costumes when budgets and deadlines run too tight to accommodate the real thing.
For Michael Jackson, however, there was no expense spared: the gold work for the sumptuous Gieves & Hawkes tailcoat designed for his late-1980s Bad tour is one of the finest examples of Hand & Lock hand embroidery. “If you were to commission one today, it would cost in the region of £75,000,” a Gieves & Hawkes spokesperson tells me.
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