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Lace Yourself for Impact

Soso Kestelman

Mar 22, 2024

Lace Yourself for Impact

From gaudy to glamorous, lace has come back in modern fashion as the fabric has been rebranded. Now noted as classy and timeless, it appears in most wardrobes. Dating back to the 1500s, lace evolved in Venice, Italy, as fabric trimmings were braided into pleated outfit decorations. Lace originated as skirt adornments, gloves, tights, and socks—mere accessories to grand, elaborate outfits that only the powerful and wealthy could access. Lace was an emblem of status, where intricate pieces could take designers years to hand-make; lace threaders worked harsh fifteen-hour days to produce a single arm’s worth of a lace ruffle. With centuries of technological developments, lace has become a symbol of delicacy and femininity, embodying female empowerment through timeless elegance.

To better understand how lace has gained popularity and disassociated itself from being a strictly private fabric, we must look at the historical progression of women showing skin. In the 19th century, the breast was exposed as a sign of enticement, where dresses had rimmed lace chests for adorning the exposure. Beginning in the 20th century, any skin exposure from women was considered indecent; therefore, lace made its way into the bridal world, as mentioned, and continued its journey through accentuating details.

In the last 500 years, the clothing market has rapidly changed and adapted to modern-day consumerism, essentially impacting lace production. While the fabric was strictly made from linen or silk thread in the 16th century, lace’s modern make is deemed “manufactured lace,” as most goods are created from cotton or synthetic fibers. Regardless of its divergence from original production methods, lace still faces an upheaval in the media. According to global financial market insights, lace saw its comeback into mainstream fashion and day-to-day wear in 2021, and it is predicted that sales and consumption of lace will only increase between 2024 and 2031. By steering away from its original intent to decorate and moving toward being the outfit, it has finally given lace the recognition it deserves as a fabric. With designers and high-fashion brands such as Alexander McQueen, Jean Paul Gaultier, and Chanel having recently adapted lace designs in their pieces, we see its rise in all forms of couture.

Lace is a fabric that begs to be touched—its texture is intricately woven yet fragile. The development from the original private, wealthy attainment to now being easily accessible has given the fabric life: a rich history dating back to the Middle Ages to a modern-day staple. Lace goes beyond sophistication and allure; it is a head-turning, attention-commanding fabric: beautiful to look at, eager to be felt, but can only be handled by the individual wearing it. Lace is discreet, but lace calls for attention. Between its private wearability and its modern prominence, lace has also been frequently used in the bridal world; first popularized by the former Queen of England, Victoria, white lace symbolizes purity and innocence. The versatility of lace allows it to be stripped down to its historical sensuality but also exalted to classiness and even enticement. Lace stands out for its duality of concealing and revealing simultaneously: through its now low-coverage, full-body style, lace provides the perfect balance between obscurity and exposure.

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