Book Review — Lace in FashionSeptember 7, 2008 at 9:39 am | Posted in Book Review, Lace | 2 Comments
I was browsing the museum shop at the V&A Museum in London when this book fell into my hands and subsequently followed me home: Lace in Fashion from the Sixteenth to Twentieth Centuries by Pat Earnshaw. There’s a lot of information inside, and I just finished reading the book a few days ago. What I got out of it is a much better sense of the historical developments in lace making.
In contradiction to a lot of other books on the history of lace this one doesn’t divide lace into different sorts. Hand- and machine-made laces, needlepoint and bobbin laces, drawn-thread embroidery, crochet and knitted laces stand next to each other and get embedded in historical context. This treatment fits the actual use of laces in fashion much better, where more often than not a certain effect was sought out, no matter how the lace that created that effect was produced. The cultural as well as the economical influences on the use of lace are traced, and I found the story of how the development of machine-made laces in the 19th century influenced the use of lace and eventually superseded most hand-made laces especially fascinating.
The book contains many illustrations showing people wearing lace as well as close-ups of the different laces, so a good comparison of the different styles can be made. It took me a while to read because there’s such a lot of information in relatively small print on those pages, and I needed thinking as well as reading time.
Pat Earnshaw also made me think about the role of lace making by hand in today’s world. Since this touches quite deeply on my understanding of myself as a lace maker, I’ll explore those thoughts in a later post. But I have to say that I just love books that make me think!