When I was a little girl an old French nun taught me to lace make, not proficiently but enough to make a pattern. I was probably 11 and I was transfixed on the delicate dance of the wooden bobbins as she demonstrated how to weave her magic black web. There is something dark and gothic about black lace and to see a nun in a rocking chair making this sensual fabric in retrospect is quite strange.
“I consider lace to be one of the prettiest imitations ever made of the fantasy of nature; lace always evokes for me those incomparable designs which the branches and leaves of trees embroider across the sky, and I do not think that any invention of the human spirit could have a more graceful or precise origin.”
Coco Chanel, April 29, 1939
Lace is complex like a woman – it can be innocent, feminine and bridal or it can be black, sexual and dangerous, it can be aristocratic or trashy - what a powerful medium of transformation. Lace has made many an icon; think of Grace Kelly’s exquisite wedding dress or Madonna’s fingerless gloves that helped to define the eighties aesthetic. Recently I have become obsessed with finest Chantilly lace - it’s so fragile and beautiful like a whisper or froth; there but not there.