Frills, Ruffles and Bows

DELICATE, INTRICATE AND BEGUILING – LACE AND FASHION HAVE GONE HAND-IN-HAND FOR HUNDREDS OF YEARS

A special display at the Antiques for Everyone exhibition this month presented by the Stourbridge based Lace Guild Museum, will focus on lace from the 18th to the 21st century.

Lacemaking was an essential source of income for many home workers in this country and abroad. It is a fascinating tale of human skill and artistry which finally succumbed to mechanisation in the industrial age. Honorary Curator, Gwynedd Roberts, will present a unique insight on the Museum Collection and the items in the exhibition.

DRAMATIC LACE

The latest TV period drama Doctor Thorne, the adaptation of Anthony Trollope’s novel by Julian Fellowes provides a prime opportunity to see how lace was used to create frills, ruffles and bows on ladies’ bonnets and dresses.

Colleen Kelsall was responsible for the costume design on Doctor Thorne and she had this to say about the lace: “I tried to use antique lace whenever possible. I tend to use less expensive reproduction lace for the supporting artists when the camera doesn’t tend to get as close. It’s lovely to see that lace making is making a comeback.”

GOLDEN AGE

A luxury item, lace became an indicator of wealth and standing. It was so valuable that pieces of lace were forever being recycled and reapplied to different garments, hence the Lace Guild owns many separate pieces of lace in its collection which will be on display at the NEC in its first public display.

To many lace historians the 18th century is considered to be the “golden age” of lacemaking. This is when quality of design, skills of technique and interpretation of the design with the development of grounds and fillings, reached new heights. For around three quarters of a century lace was an essential part of fashionable dress.

LACE AND FOLK ART

The main handmade Bobbin lace areas in Britain were in Devon around Honiton, (which specialised in Part Laces), and in the East Midlands counties of Buckinghamshire, Bedfordshire and Northamptonshire where straight laces were made, and around Honiton in Devon which specialised in part laces.

The distinctive English East Midlands beaded and decorated bobbins made from locally sourced wood or bone are rightly recognised as a unique Folk Art, as are those of very different design originating from Devon. The display will also feature bobbins , and various other lace making tools. The Voluntary staff from the museum will be on hand to speak about lace and its history.

LACE TODAY

The passion for lace lives on. It is still used by top fashion designer in their haute couture pieces and is never far from the red carpet as demonstrated at the Oscars when Jennifer Lawrence was papped wearing a black filigree lace Dior couture number. Both Amal Clonoey and the Duchess of Cambridge chose lace for their wedding dresses.

Modern manufacturing techniques mean that lace, and lace inspired design, is prevalent on the high street incorporated into day wear from dresses to hosiery, a material of choice for special occasions like wedding dresses and, thanks to the likes of Agent Provocateur, it has become synonymous with sexy underwear – a long way from the magnificent ruffs of the Elizabethan era.

The main handmade Bobbin lace areas in Britain were in Devon around Honiton, (which specialised in Part Laces), and in the East Midlands counties of Buckinghamshire, Bedfordshire and Northamptonshire where straight laces were made, and around Honiton in Devon which specialised in part laces.

SEE FOR YOURSELF

Antiques for Everyone is one of the largest fairs of its kind in the UK, attracting collectors and enthusiasts from all over the world who come to purchase items from around 230 specialist dealers. It remains one of the most important events in Britain for pottery, porcelain and glass collectors and will also feature art deco, antique and decorative furniture, treen, silver, maps, prints, armour, dolls, bears, watercolours, oils, jewellery and vintage clothing. Buyers can purchase with confidence as all items have been vetted and datelined meaning that they have been independently authenticated by leading industry experts.

Antiques for Everyone will be at the NEC, Halls 18-19 on 7-10 April.

For further information and to book advance tickets visit www.antiquesforeveryone.co.uk

(Picture credit: ITV/Hat Trick Productions Doctor Thorne)