Charles & Keith collaborates with Singaporean illustrator and embroidery artist Teresa Lim, @teeteeheehee, on limited edition bags
Singaporean footwear and accessories label Charles & Keith has been slaying the accessory game since it was founded in 1996. Since then, its global appeal has grown, as evidenced by its appearance on Hellessy’s spring/summer 2020 runway at recent New York Fashion Week (previously, it dressed Molly Goddard’s SS19 models) and the social media feed of top street style influencers such as Carmen Hamilton.
For its latest campaign, Charles & Keith decided to look to the talents at home. The local brand found its latest partner in local artist Teresa Lim. Better known to her 84.5 thousand fans on Instagram as @teeteeheehee, Lim is an embroidery artist who dreams up cool, one-of-a-kind work with just a needle and some thread.
We sat down with Lim ahead of the launch of the limited edition drop to find out more about the collaboration, her design process, and Anya, her self-proclaimed alter ego featured in the capsule, out tomorrow.
How did the collaboration came about?
Teresa Lim (TL): I had no idea what the collaboration was going to look like at the beginning of the year that I really wanted to focus on my illustration and my girls. I like to draw girls but I didn't know how to feature them yet. A few weeks later, Charles & Keith came back to me with the mood board, citing Halloween is to be the main inspiration, which explains the all-black pieces you see now.
TL: It fits my illustration style. I had an embroidery series called the Sad Girls Club, and the girls I drew looked melancholic and dark. It resonated with the theme of Halloween and became the starting point of the collection.
Why do you think your girls are melancholic?
TL: Because I am very pensive [laughs]. She’s my alter ego, Anya, and she’s a warrior.
Can you describe the embroideries and what they represent?
TL: I gained most of my inspiration from tarot cards that feature elements of Earth and water. The clouds are symbolic of water and the plants are Earth. I combined the two elements with a mystical approach. One of the girls is reading, and another is finding her way in the water. There is one inspired by the Wheel of Fortune tarot card as well.
Could you tell us about the design process?
TL: I start with a mood board first. Then I’ll start sketching and illustrating to let the ideas flow out. For this collection, the inspiration included tarot cards, crystals, glass bottles with plants inside, and the like. Overall, it was gloomy, dark, and mysterious.
Are you a spiritual person by nature?
TL: I believe in energy, karma, stuff like that.
What do you think is the energy that these bags will evoke when a person is wearing them?
TL: Creative energy, maybe. I don’t want to impose a narrative on the viewer. My hope is that they create their own narrative: what is the girl doing, why is she holding a candle, and et cetera.
What is one thing about embroidery that you want people to know?
TL: I want people to see that it isn't a traditional medium. It can be applied in a more contemporary sense. Machine embroidery has been around for years.
When you know that your artwork is going to be embroidered, does it shape your style or how you illustrate?
TL: Embroidery and illustration always goes hand in hand for me. An illustrator draws with pencil and pen, but I draw with needle and thread. With the designs, I tried to keep the look as organic and hand-drawn looking as possible. The lines are not neat, for example.
You don't see it as two separate mediums.
TL: It's like a Venn Diagram, so I'm in the middle — different needles and threads.
That's very neat. How does it feel to have your work be available to the masses and have it be a part of their life so closely?
TL: It's really cool but I also feel vulnerable. I didn't expect vulnerability to be a thing, and it’s because I am putting a little bit of myself out there.
How do you think you would feel if you go into a cafe and you see someone carrying the bag?
TL: I think I will take a picture from a corner [laughs]. It would be exciting.
What do you love to embroider most?
TL: I love embroidering hands because hands are a bridge between worlds.
What do you think those worlds are?
TL: It could be anything. For a writer, the act of writing creates a link between what is in their mind to paper so people can see the world of the writer. For a photographer, hands capture a moment. The worlds are endless, and time and space are relative.
What do you mean?
TL: There is no fixed time. This is just a moment, there is no past or future, only now.
Let’s move on to fashion and style. How would you describe your style?
TL: I’m very inspired by vintage, 70’s Mad Men kind of vibe. I like the style of pin-ups girls, but I can’t do the hair.
Where do you shop and what do you buy?
TL: Mostly Uniqlo for basics. I like Arcade too.
If I were to take a look in your bag right now, what would we find or be surprised to find?
TL: I always have a cardigan because I'm always cold. I will have a book with me as well. Currently I have a fantasy novel titled The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss. I also carry an umbrella and water bottle, very auntie [laughs]. Here’s a bag of stickers to paste on my notebook or planner.
Do you remember your first handbag?
TL: No I don't. But I've always been a tote bag person because I carry a lot of things.
The Charles & Keith by Teeteeheehee collection will be available online and at selected stores worldwide from 15 October.
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