The Timeless Enchantment Of Black Lace

Fashion’s Enchanting Adornment Of Black Lace

The allure and enchantment of black lace…
In the history of fashion, the elegance of black lace has continued to enchant us. The refinement and sophistication of its beauty is certainly enduring and the history of black lace, itself, is certainly intriguing…

History states that simple thread lace appeared on ordinary clothing and household linens around the 15th century. However, it was the magnificent lace worn by nobility and royalty of the King’s court during the time of Henri III (1551-1589) that enticed the fashionable world. Portraits painted in the 16th and 17th centuries show strips and flounces of black silk lace from Italy, Spain, France and the Flanders. Historical records also show that equal quantities of black and white Flemish lace were being purchased during the first part of the 17th century. Unfortunately for fashion’s archives, the early lace has not survived due to a dye used that caused the threads to disintegrate over time.

“Chantilly Lace” is the principal lace of the black laces. The name “Chantilly” is taken from the small French town of Chantilly, located north of Paris. It was during the 17th century, when the Duchess of Longueville (Catherine de Rohan) developed a lace school and organized the manufacture of lace at Chantilly. With the patronage of the duchess and the proximity to Paris, “Chantilly” lace soon became a fashionable statement. “Chantilly Lace” was considered a handmade “Bobbin Lace” known for its fine “Ground” (the lace stitches outside the motifs which hold the lace together) and outlined pattern called a “Cordonnet” (a flat untwisted strand which achieves a light and shadow in the pattern, which was generally of flowers). The lavish detailing of Chantilly Lace became a French tradition following the 17th century. Interestingly, by 1750 there were three houses of lace dealers (Moreau, Le Tellier and Lionnet). In 1758 a French lace maker from Calvados is said to have discovered the invisible method of joining smaller pieces or strips together with a needle technique called “point de racroc”. Another advancement for lace makers, indeed! As a side note, during the 18th century silk laces were introduced, garnering even more fame for France’s lace industry.

Stitched Elegance: French Chantilly Lace

“Chantilly Lace” became a fashionable rage during the reigns of Louis XV and Louis XVI. In fact, black lace is said to have been a primary export for the Spanish markets and the Americas since the early 17th century. Of interest, the early “Chantilly lace” was not black, but a cream colored silk called “Blonde”. When black thread was used it was called “Black Blonde”. In the end, “Black lace” surpassed that of the “Blonde” in Spain. Spanish Born Queen, Marie Therese (Maria Theresa of Spain, 1638-1683), wife of Louis XIV of France, was a fashionable presence in black lace. “Chantilly Lace” was also a favorite of Louis XV’s last mistrress, Mme du Barry and of the infamous and the “Queen Of Fashion”, Marie Antoinette (of course…). Alas, when the French Revolution began in 1789, lace production at Chantilly came to a halt as lace-makers were seen as proteges of the royals. In fact, after the execution of Mme du Barry and Marie Antoinette in 1793, the lace makers of Chantilly were executed for having served the nobility. What a tremendous price to pay for a craft of beauty! During the first French Empire (1804-1815) (known as the Greater French Empire or Napoleonic Empire) “Chantilly Lace” experienced a revival and became a fashionable statement in Paris, once again. In fact, black lace and black silk lace was greatly esteemed by French ladies of rank and fashion during the 18th century. History states that its height of popularity was between 1830-1840, and was revived once again in 1860. However, at this time a great majority of lace made in “Chantilly Style” came from Caen, Normandy (specifically, Bayeux) and Le Puy. It is said that there were more than 100 nearby village also making “Chantilly Lace”! Who knew? In addition, large quantities of “Chantilly Lace” making began in Belgian cities of Enghein and Geerardsbergen (Grammont), using all of the old techniques and designs. By the early 19th century, “Chantilly Lace” was exported to Holland, Russia, Germany, Portugal, England, Spain and South America. The use of black lace in fashion proceeded onward as a love affair ensued with its depth and sophisticated patterns of elegance…

Helena Christensen, Circa 1990’s: Spanish Influence Of Black Lace
Supermodel Style: Vanity Fair, September 2008, Cindy Crawford, Stephanie Seymour, Claudia Schiffer, Naomi Campbell, Linda Evangelista & Christy Turlington
1990’s Fashionable Edge: Christy Turlington, Yves Saint Laurent
Sophistication & Intrigue: Embellishment In Black Lace
Decadent Lace: A Mesmerizing Elegance
Lacy Stitches Of Elegant Motifs: Alluring Lace
Fashion’s Archives Of Fashionable Lace

Alas, my ultimate favorite fashion cover of all time….
A perfectly embellished Linda Evangelista swathed in black lace. Certainly befitting of the cover title “Enter the Era of Elegance”

Harper’s Bazaar, September 1992, Linda Evangelista, Photographed By Patrick Demarchelier

Timeless elegance in fashion, indeed. Midnight black in motifs of stylish weaves. Grace & beauty in timeless design. Dense and transparent areas of open and twisted, braided and embroidered threads that never fade from fashion’s appeal. Reworked for centuries, black lace will continually evolve as an elegant element in fashionable attire. Dark and lovely, the feminine appeal of this swirling panache and graceful floral pattern of black on black will forever enchant us all….



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