What To Choose In Laces And Furs
( Originally Published 1924 )
"Wisdom with periwigs, with cassocks grace;
OLD LACE brings to one's mind associations of many things that are tender, romantic, and beautiful. The word itself has a gentle sound, suggestive of delicate fingers, soft throats, and the beloved women long since dead who created and wore the fairy-like fabric. Many of us have in our possession bits of rare and delicate laces which have been treasured from generation to generation. How strange it seems that such ethereal tissue can so long survive when the men and women whom it once adorned are now but fading memories.
Historians tell us that Italy was the first home of lace-making. It may have had an Eastern origin, but antiquarians have sought in vain to learn something authentic; certain characteristics in different laces suggest many different countries. It was not until the sixteenth century, however, that lace-making became a lay industry.
Catherine de Medici set the fashion for lace in France; Colbert, Louis XIV's prime minister said,
"Fashions should be to France what the mines of Peru were to Spain." He believed that French lace could be made a satisfactory item of trade. Tho the Puritans of England frowned on lace, it is interesting to note that when Cromwell's body lay in state, it was draped with the most splendid of Flemish point. In the reign of Charles II of England, lace was worn in profusion. When William and Mary were ruling, the queen's lace bill for one year was nine thousand, five hundred, and ninety dollars. Marie Antoinette made lace very popular in France, and during the French Revolution, many lace-makers were guillotined be-cause of their association with aristocratic dress. In 1840, there was a rage for Chantilly black lace shawls. The Empress Eugénie made black lace popular, and well-dressed Parisians, Londoners, and Americans all adopted the custom.
At first after the introduction of machine-made lace, just the net base was manufactured and upon this were laid designs of flower and foliage in appliqué. (Queen Victoria's wedding-dress was of Honiton with a machine-made net).
It may be of interest to know some of the names of the laces and the origin of these names.