Dolce&Gabbana have embraced lace and taken its strong handicraft traditions, steeped in central Europe, and made them their own. Dolce&Gabbana place great emphasis on tradition, hand crafted luxury and history in their collections. Lace, a fabric rich in all things loved by the fashion house could not but be an enduring protagonist of the collections throughout the brand’s history.
We’ve tackled the visual reasons why lace is such a central fabric to Dolce&Gabbana, the sensuality of the transparencies, the sexiness of the concept of underwear and outerwear and the subversive religious connotations of lace all intrigue the designers and are a hit with the client. But Dolce&Gabbana are about more than just confidence enhancing or ironic clothes, they are keen in maintaining and rediscovering the Italian handicraft traditions, and here is where lace plays a major part.
The origins of lace are hard to trace, however in the Victoria and Albert Museum, in London, samples of a rudimentary form of lace are displayed and were found in the Tombs of Pharaohs in Ancient Egypt. This lace, aptly called mummy lace is the oldest specimen found so far. The constant drive to make clothing more attractive is responsible for the creation of the finest and most costly trimming we now call classic lace. Fore fathers of luxury and of quiet ostentation, the ancient Greeks and Romans, would ornament their togas with colours or gold.
Interestingly, the origins of lace weaving can be traced to a more utilitarian effect: a new garment needed no ornament about the immediate edge, but as it became worn and frayed, the threads had to be twisted and stitched together. Lace is derived from the twisting techniques used in decoration of the fringe ends of woven fabric.
The birthplaces of modern lace making are generally recognized as Flanders and Italy.
Originating in Flanders, lace making traditions migrated to Italy due to two distinct events in European history. In 1300 Joan of Navarre visited Bruges with her husband, King Philip IV of France and when she noticed the fine lace she became jealous. In consequence, her husband initiated a strong taxation system on Flanders which resulted in an armed conflict. Due to the strong relationship between the Venetian and Flemish sea faring merchants, many Flemish families moved to Venice to escape the tax and conflict.
In 1305 the Black Death tore through Europe, originating in the northern states. Again, many merchants from Flanders moved further south, to Italy, trying to escape the plague and brought with them their traditions including lace making.
Italian city-states were amongst the wealthiest in Europe and were accustomed to foreign luxury goods like silk and precious stones. Lace became an addition to their opulent wardrobes. The Church was also instrumental in anchoring lace making to the Italian peninsula due to their adoption of the fabric for church furnishings and ceremonial robes.
By the 16th Century, lace making had spread beyond its origins in Flanders and Italy. As demand grew beyond the Catholic Church, the art of lace making was established in virtually every European nation. Lace was desperately craved by the nobility during the Renaissance as a way to showcase their immense wealth, appreciation for beauty, and their sense of style.
One of the first recognized styles of lace was Gros Point de Venise, a needle lace created in 17th Century Venice. This rich and beautiful lace was particular favorite of the royals, especially French King Louis XIV, the Sun King. As the centuries progressed lace continued to gain in popularity and in intricateness. Lace manufacture spread to France and England while in the countries where lace making was already established new forms of embroidery were developed in differing regions, like macramé for example.
The romantic and traditional qualities of lace have not escaped the attention of the most creative and influential designers of the 20th Century. As Coco Chanel wrote: “unlike many other precious objects which, owing to industrial progress, have lost much of their luxurious quality, lace, adapting itself to the economic and industrial requirements of our age, has kept its main characteristics: precious elegance, lightness and luxury”.
Dolce&Gabbana, like Coco Chanel, understand the importance of lace in tradition and the multi facetted reasons why it appeals so to fashionable ladies all over the world.
"Of many Arts, one surpasses all. For the maiden seated at her work flashes the smooth balls and thousand threads into the circle, ... and from this, her amusement, makes as much profit as a man earns by the sweat of his brow, and no maiden ever complains, at even, of the length of the day. The issue is a fine web, which feeds the pride of the whole globe; which surrounds with its fine border cloaks and tuckers, and shows grandly round the throats and hands of Kings." Jacob Van Eyck, 1651.
If you fancy learning the ropes of this ancient art: and feel as though you’re in a Van Eyck canvas here are five reputable schools which teach traditional lace making:
Styled by: Yuri Ahn
Written by: Valentina Zannoni