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Friday, 25 November 2011 11:00

About French Lace

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In terms of fashion, French lace is often synonymous to a style that's predominantly feminine. It accentuates the womanliness of its wearer when used as an accessory or detail for a gown. While French lace may be popular today in women's fashion, traditionally lace was used by men and women alike, with men adorned with intricate lace trimmed collars and wrist cuffs. Some say that the beginning of the art of lacemaking goes back to the beginning 15th century when Charles V of Belguim decreed lacemaking be taught in schools in Belgium. Geographically, what we know as lace today flourished within Italy and the Flemish provinces of Belgium - and later on in France, who joined the two nations in being at the forefront of lace design and manufacturing during the early 16th century.
  Types of French Lace As the production of lace became more and more popular in the 16th century, Henry III of France sought the help of Frederic Vinciolo, a pattern maker from Venice, to create needle works and laces for his court. With the influence of Venetian lace design, it was not long before the French had adapted their own design of laces – laces that we can consider as a form of art, enduring throughout the centuries, some designs still in use today. Among the many types of laces, the following have originated from France: Alençon lace As its name implies, the Alençon lace, or point d'Alençon, is a type of lace that originated from the French town of Alençon in Normandy, France – one of the centres of lace making in the early 16th century. This type of lace is a fine needlepoint lace on a sheer net background. Alençon was being promoted by Jean-Baptiste Colbert as one of the centres to help grow the French lacemaking industry. Venetian workers were brought in to help instruct French needleworkers in the production of point de Venise, a popular type of lace produced by the Venetians. It was not long before this technique was adapted by the French workers giving it their own flair which then evolved into the Alençon lace that we know today. Arras Lace As with most laces whose name comes from where it was manufactured, Arras lace was a bobbin lace made at Arras, France, which was popular from the 17th century onwards. Arras lace is known especially for its pure white lace; sturdier than Lille yet with similar floral designs. Argentan Lace The rise of Argentan as a centre for lace making grew because of the high demand of Alençon lace where subcontractors were needed to meet the demand. Starting out as manufacturers of Alencon lace, the lace makers of Argentan soon developed their own style of lace which became famous for its stunning designs as well as the durability of its ground which made the lace almost indestructible. Blonde Lace Blonde Lace became popular in 18th century France as a bobbin lace made from unbleached, pale beige Chinese silk which was 'blonde' or natural-coloured.  Two different sizes of thread are used when making blonde lace – a fine thread is used for the mesh ground while a coarse and fluffy thread is used for the design making the design stand out from the ground. Bayeux Lace Bayeux lace can be described as a lace that is held unique by its delicate patterns based on historical patterns. It is similar to Chantilly and is often black. Chantilly Lace Chantilly lace is another type of bobbin lace which was made in Chantilly, France, in the 17th century. This type of lace has a fine net ground. A half-stitch is used for the solid design areas with a thick thread outlining the design – this gives the lace an appearance that looks light and airy. Dieppe Lace Dieppe grew as a lace centre in 18th century. The lace known to be produced in Dieppe is sometimes called Dieppe Point – especially when the quality is fine. This lace is similar to Valenciennes, yet less complicated to make. Le Puy Lace Le Puy is most known to be the oldest lace centre in France with origins in the 16th century. The lace produced by Le Puy has been described as light and open guipure. Cluny lace, a strong, thick bobbin lace and frequently geometric in design, originated from Le Puy. Lille Lace Lace production at Lille began at the end of the 16th century and was known for the production of lace akin to Flanders lace. It is distinct with its fine net background and hexagonal mesh where the thread was twisted rather than plaited. The design pattern usually consisted of conventional curving flowers and scrolls. Mirecourt Lace Mirecourt is a bobbin lace quite similar to Lille. It consists of hand-made patterns of flowers and sprigs attached to a machine-made net. Valenciennes Lace The Valenciennes lace is known as the finest of all French bobbin-laces and is distinct as having no cordonnet (the raised outline present in most laces to give definition to design). It has the most elaborate workmanship as, unlike other laces, the pattern and ground is made together with the same thread on the same pillow. The manufacture of the many types of French lace is in itself an intricate art form, with many designs still being made on original machinery and often in limited quantities. Spanning many centuries, the lace's rich history truly resonates in the beauty that French laces possess. With royalty worldwide donning only the most exquisite of these beautiful laces, French lace still holds a special place in today's fashion - especially in the creation of wedding dresses, as a material that represents and exudes beauty and elegance.
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