Tuesday August 30, 2011
Everything You Need to Know about Lace
Lacey Details: A Bridal Lace Primer
Long before Kate Middleton walked down the aisle to marry her prince in a lace-adorned wedding dress, lace has been a mainstay in the bridal industry. But the Duchess of Cambridge’s wedding dress, a Grace Kelly-inspired Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen wedding gown that combined French and English lace, has inspired many a bride to take a second look at lace.
When lace first gained widespread popularity in the 16th century, it became a status symbol since lace was exceptionally costly. A person’s wealth and social standing could be easily determined by the amount of this lavish decoration he or she wore. In the late 1700s, machine-made lace appeared and lace came within the reach of a greater portion of the population. In 1840, Queen Victoria decided to wear a white wedding gown when she wed Prince Albert (which lead to white wedding dresses being de rigueur for Western brides). She chose white so that her wedding dress would include some handmade lace that she owned. This decision helped secure lace’s place in bridal gown designs. Since then lace and wedding dresses have gone together like brides and grooms.
Once thought by many to be too old-fashioned and ultra-traditional, lace is one of the hottest things in bridal these days. This versatile textile simultaneously reveals and conceals and can be romantic or bold, classic or edgy, demure or sexy, formal or casual—all depending on how bridal designers choose to use it. Regardless of your style, there is a lace to suit your tastes. You just have to find the right lace for you.
A wide variety of lace styles exist and telling them apart isn’t always easy, so we’ve compiled a helpful primer. From the exquisite detail of Alençon lace to the bold outlines of Venetian lace, you’ll become an expert before you know it.
(ah-lan-SOHN; also known as Point d’Alençon)
One of the most popular types of lace for wedding gowns, Alençon is a French needlepoint lace that originated in Alençon, France. It features a floral or leaf design on a sheer net background (an open fabric having a geometrically shaped, open mesh that can range from fine to large). The design, made of fine linen thread, is outlined with heavy threads to embolden the pattern and add more definition. It is often embellished with beads or sequins.
Alençon lace dress by Lee Ann Belter
(also known as Renaissance lace)
A heavy lace made from shaping linen braid, or tape, into patterns and then using “brides,” or connections made of thread, to hold the pattern together. Battenberg lace was created in the late 19th century. Every English Duke had his own lace pattern, so a new style of tape lace was invented when Queen Victoria gave her new son-in-law the title of Duke of Battenberg. Battenberg lace is the most readily accessible type of lace and the making of it was a popular hobby in the 1930s and 40s.
Battenberg lace dress by Newport News
The other most common type of lace for wedding dresses, Chantilly, made in France and named for the city where it originated, is a delicate, web-like bobbin lace that is characterized by a pattern of flowers, branches and ribbons on a plain net background. The lace is lightweight and soft to the touch.
Chantilly lace dress by Monique Lhuillier
A type of Belgian bobbin lace, named for Marie-Henriette, duchess of Brabant, features a raised floral design on an irregularly spaced net background. The lace is non-contiguous since the design is made in pieces and then linked together with “brides” as it’s created. There are two variations of Duchesse lace: Brussels and Bruges.
Duchesse lace cape by BHLDN
A type of lace, usually made of cotton and distinguished by holes, or eyelets, that are cut into fabric to create a pattern. The holes are finished at the edges with thread and the fabric is often embroidered with delicate floral patterns in the same thread. This type of lace tends to be less formal.
Eyelet dress by Carolina Herrera
An embroidery-style heavy, raised lace with an open background made up of a series of guipure used to be made by wrapping thread around fine cords or wires and linking these together to create the pattern (the name comes from the French word guiper, meaning to cover with silk). These days heavy stitching is embroidered onto paper and the paper is later dissolved leaving a finished piece of lace. Typical guipure motifs include roses, daisies or oval designs. For a long time the term guipure applied to all laces without a mesh background that have patterns united by “brides”.
Guipure lace dress by Ivy & Aster
Similar to Alençon lace, Lyon lace has a lighter weight. The lace is generally outlined with a fine thread of either silk or cotton, giving it a more delicate appearance. This lace features an intricate, ornamental design delicately stitched onto a net background.
Lyon lace dress by Liancarlo
(also called Dotted Swiss)
First made on hand looms in Switzerland in 1750, this lace is made up of evenly spaced ovals, dots or squares in a motif on a sheer lightweight fabric, usually chiffon or a fine net. The dots can be woven, flocked or embroidered onto the fabric. It is generally layered over another, heavier fabric and is often used in veils.
Point D’esprit dress by Christos
(also called Soutache Lace)
Ribbon lace, a modern derivation of Battenberg lace, is formed by sewing ribbon into a pattern on a background of fine net.
Ribbon lace dress by Pronovias
A lightweight machine-made lace, which evolved from a handmade version, that has an all-over, intricate, intertwining, decorative pattern embroidered onto the surface of English net or tulle. This gives the lace a light, airy appearance.
Schiffli lace dress by Alfred Angelo
A dramatic continuous bobbin lace that is characterized by a design of flat roses on a net background. Spanish lace is often used on mantillas, a classic Spanish veil, and most often is created using gold or silver thread.
Spanish lace dress by Maria Lucia Hohan
(also called Point de Venise)
A needlepoint lace that originated in Venice, Italy in the 16th century, Venetian lace was mainly used to adorn cuffs and collars. In it’s heyday it was extremely expensive and prized more than jewels. Venetian lace is an open-pattern lace that is not attached to net or any other background and each motif is connected to the next by thread “brides”. It is typically made up of large floral, spray, foliage or geometric patterns and is generally cut into appliqués (pieces of lace that are sewn onto other fabric) or used as trim.
Venetian lace capelet by Mignonne Handmade
You are now armed with the basic knowledge needed to go into a bridal store and find your perfect lace wedding dress.