To the Unnamed Artist: Lace

While lace has been produced by home sewers at least since the Middle Ages, demand in the late 16th century became so large that female professional lacemakers and lacemaking schools became common. Unfortunately, lace, as an accent piece or as the material from which garments were made, tends to erase the identity of these craftspeople. Design houses like House of Worth and Givenchy are not remembered for their individual seamstresses, embroiderers, or lacemakers, but I remember thinking while watching the documentary Dior and I, "There's a lot of women working in this atelier." However, it is Raf Simons or Christian Dior who are remembered and credited as artists and designers.

If you look at lace in museum collections like The Met or the V&A, you will see much of them credited to "Unknown," but thousands of pieces of beautiful and painstakingly intricate pieces of lace owe their existence to women, both professional and amateur, who wielded an extraordinary talent.

clockwise from left
1. House of Worth Gown, 1902, The Met
2. Parasol, 1870-1880, V&A
Flounce, c. 1860, V&A
4. A Brackley Lacemaker, "Lacemaking", Northamptonshire Heritage
5. Fan Leaf, mid-1880s, SFO Museum

Photo Gallery of "A Brief History of Lace" from The Guardian


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