Lace – delicate and enduring

Lace is on my mind at the moment as I cut two small pieces of lace from an absolutely gorgeous bra that had reached its use-by-date.

I love the contrast between the fine lace, the handmade colonial brick and the lacy alyssum flowers.

I love the contrast between the fine lace, the handmade colonial brick and the lacy alyssum flowers.

While researching how I might incorporate them into a cushion without the design looking like an ex-bra I came across a museum, the Cité international de la dentelle et de la mode that is dedicated to lace and is definitely on my Must Visit list next time I am in France.

It shows my ignorance that I didn’t immediately think of Calais for lace production probably because I use it as a stopping off point from the Eurostar and due to the publicity around the illegal migrant and refugee camps.  Now I have discovered that Calais is the centre of all things beautiful and lacy in France. Although handmade lace was made throughout Europe particularly in Normandy, Flanders, Italy and Spain, the Calais lace industry started when an English lace maker smuggled in a mechanised lace loom in 1816.

The facade with metal lace punch cards Sourced:Pad de Calais Tourisme

The facade with metal lace punch cards
Source:Pad de Calais Tourisme

The museum is situated in an old lace mill and is worth a visit both from the architectural perspective as well as a fashion angle. The architects have cleverly incorporated a metal façade that replicates traditional lace making punch cards onto the face of the building that is convex and concave, reflecting the light from the waters in front of it.

Coloured facade of Calais lace museum. Sourced: The Good Life France Magazine

Coloured facade of Calais lace museum.
Source: The Good Life France Magazine

Inside the museum are working looms and beautiful examples of lace. Classes are available to learn the art of lace making and special exhibitions from the world’s fashion designers are on display. An 2014 article in the France Today magazine and another in the Good Life France have more information.