In European fashion, there is a number of concepts about some fabrics that are traditionally best produced in certain countries, such as “Italian silk”, “British wool and tweed” or “French lace”… These collocations have become so well-established that we tend to associate those particular fabric types with the countries mainly building mental connections with the historical prospective. In the minds of millions of people, “Italian silk” or “French Lace” are represented similarly to brand names, as we know that “generally besides Mediterranean cousine and flashy sportscars, Italians are particularly good at silk weaving” or “On those monochromatic pictures of the Art Deco period, those were French actresses who looked so feminine and charming”. As many other concepts and stereotypes, these ideas are seeded in our minds in quite an early age, which ends up in shaping our values and fashion preferences in the adulthood. However, how many of us are satisfied with the general representation of the concepts? I bet, anyone at least once been mentally intrigued by an abstract collocation “French lace”. Is it a separate type of lace, or are there various types? How was it technically possible to weave such complicated floral patterns without computerised machinery back in 17th or 18th century? Or if we know textile production innovations came from England, how come France become that renowned for particularly lace manufacturing?
Many questions arise when you apply a comprehensive approach to the concept of French lace. However, they require no less thoughtful answers. So, let’s get started with lace types today.
- Among all the lace types produced in France, Chantilly lace is considered as one of the most classically French one. It is called after the city of Chantilly, which is on outskirts of Paris. This lace type has always been regarded as luxury and expensive one, as along with fine ground and meticulous outline with cordonnet, this fabric features a great number of details. Moreover, it was originally made of silk and painted black. Given such a promising description, Chantilly lace has been applied for such opulent garments as mitens, capes, mantillas, scarves and shawls. Today, it is the first choice fabric for bridal and prom dresses, as for creating the entire Chantilly lace dress, as for adorning evening dresses with separate pieces of this lace. This fabric is also used for skirts and overlays, as well as for lingerie.
- No less typically French is Lyon lace produced in the city of Caudry on the north of France. It is a pure heritage, as this fabric is woven on one of three looms remained from the 1850s, giving you a unique chance to taste that splendid vibe of the epoch gone. Lyon lace is traditionally made in ecru, which backed up with volumetric effect, distinctive texture and complicated ornaments make this fabric a splendid choice for a long straight wedding dress.
- Corded lace. Also known as Alencon lace, it is produced today in many countries these days. However, originally, it came from Northern France. As follows from its name, this lace is created by outlining patterns with a cord giving it a volumetric effect and distinctive sheen. Corded lace is renowned for its fineness, light weight and dramatic flowing, which is perfect for bridal, prom and evening dresses, as well as overlays.
- Unlike the three lace types above, Guipure lace originates from Italy, which is also confirmed by the second name of this lace – Venetian lace. However, the French name is no less familiar for millions of fashionistas all over the world, that’s why I’ve included it into this list as well. What is special about it? This lace is unique by the way the elements of its pattern are interconnected with each other: there are tiny bars between the raised elements, offering intricate look yet stiffer hand and higher weight compared to other lace types. Guipure lace is a surefire choice for evening and daily dresses, skirts and blouses, jackets and lingerie.
- Embroidered lace. Although this type of lace is not typically French either, those are French manufacturers that made it quite common to associate this lace with France. Decorated with sequins, beads or buggles, these fabrics are regularly selected by theleading fashion houses. Embroidered lace from France is defined by sophistication coming from amazing colour combinations and various adorning elements, be they ribbons or flower appliqués. The true magic happens when the fabric gets exposed onto light – it gets instantly burst with sparkles. Embroidered lace is a perfect option for a luxury evening dress that is intended for special occasions.
- Cotton lace. This lace may seem quite odd in this typology, as it characterises content rather than a particular type of weave. However, cotton lace is especially favoured in France and is produced by the leading lace weavers of the Fifth Republic. Proudly made of 100% cotton, this fabric offers a great feel and fantastic finish. In fact, it offers some of the most precious properties of cotton fabrics – soft and smooth hand, hypoallergenicity and durability.
Regardless of actual fashion trends, lace fabrics from France are timelessly in fashion, which makes them a good pick no matter what particular type of lace is most expected this season – lace is always about delicacy, magnificence and womanliness.