From Chanel to Dior to Valentino, lace has been a source of inspiration for countless prestigious fashion houses. The TextielMuseum is proud to present the international exhibition ‘The Art of Lace | Haute Couture from Chanel to Iris van Herpen’, featuring creations by the world’s most renowned names in fashion.
Opening on 16 November, the exhibition portrays the innovative power of French Leavers lace and was previously on show in Calais. The visitor is given a behind-the-scenes look at lacemakers and couturiers: from the design and manufacture to the finished product, ready for the catwalk. The show includes almost 50 one-of-a-kind items by fashion greats Alberta Ferretti, Balenciaga, Chanel, Dior, Jean Paul Gaultier, Iris van Herpen, Louis Vuitton, Maison Margiela, Schiaparelli, Valentino and Yiqing Yin.
Designer: Dior. Haute Couture Autumn/Fall 2018 collection. Photo: Java/Ludwig Bonnet
Leavers: innovation in lace
Woven on a loom, Leavers lace can accommodate the experimental designs of couturiers while also challenging them to the utmost in creating their collections. The fabric looks delicate but is actually quite strong: unlike knitted lace, it does not fray. It can be transparent or opaque, can incorporate varying patterns, materials and colours, and can be woven in 3D. For Chanel, Karl Lagerfeld laminated the lace, allowing the stiffness of the material to accentuate the patterns, while Iris van Herpen is inspired by lace in 3D printing that mimics the effect of this ornate fabric.
Behind the scenes of haute couture
The ‘The Art of Lace’ exhibition offers an intimate insight into haute couture and illustrates the close dialogue between the Leavers lacemakers and the fashion designers. While fashion houses usually keep their suppliers and techniques secret, this exhibition reveals the complete process behind each haute couture piece, with video’s and samples to admire and even touch. The process of lacemaking and couture is one of continuous development and innovation. ‘The Art of Lace’ is a tribute not only to the vision of the fashion designer, but also the creativity and skill of the lacemaker, showcasing the journey from thread to fashion show in a unique way.
‘A behind-the-scenes look at lacemakers and couturiers: from the design and manufacture to the finished product, ready for the catwalk’
Designer: Valentino. Haute Couture Autumn/Winter 2015 collection.
The development of lace
Originally handmade, the lace was extremely costly due to the slow and intensive labour involved. The onset of the industrial revolution in England in the beginning of the 19th century sees the development of various lacemaking machines, including the Leavers loom. After the machine was smuggled to the north of France, a rich industry develops around the Leavers technique. The arrival of knitted lace and changing tastes in fashion mean that from the 1960s, the craft is under threat because of the technical complexity and high costs. These days only a handful of specialist lacemakers produce the Dentelle de Calais-Caudry, making fabrics for the biggest fashion houses in Paris and beyond.
Designer: Louis Vuitton. Cruise collection 2018. Photo: Fred Collier | Ville de Calais (Haute Dentelle)
Accompanying the exhibition is Haute Dentelle, a richly illustrated book created by Sylvie Marot and written by Shazia Boucher, Anne-Claire Laronde, Sylvie Marot and Sophie Henwood-Nivet, with photos by Robin. Highlighting the innovative strength of this woven lace, it offers a beautiful photographic overview of the exhibition and features exclusive interviews with Nadine Dufat (LEMARIÉ), Bertrand Guyon (SCHIAPARELLI), Zuhair Murad, Tamara Ralph (RALPH & RUSSO), Frédéric Rumigny (DARQUER), Adeline Sapin (SOLSTISS) and Yiqing Yin. This co-edition by the Cité de la Dentelle et de la Mode is written in French and English and is published by Snoeck. It can be purchased here for 35 euros, and in the MuseumShop during the exhibition.
‘The Art of Lace’ exhibition is an adaptation of ‘Haute Dentelle’, made and presented in the Cité de la Dentelle et de la Mode in Calais, France, from June 2018 to January 2019.
Sylvie Marot is a French fashion curator. She is the author of Beribboned: Tribute to Ribbon (Panama-MAI, 2006) and has contributed to From Stone to Light (La Martinière, 2012),Kimono Now (Prestel Editions, 2015) and Fashion Curating (HEAD, 2016). She received the Grand Prix du Livre de Mode 2017 for the catalogue Anne Valérie Hash. Décrayonner, developed for the similarly titled exhibition at the Cité de la Dentelle et de la Mode in Calais.
Cité de la Dentelle et de la Mode
Cité de la Dentelle et de la Mode (Museum of Lace and Fashion), is situated in an authentic lace factory in Calais dating from 1870. The museum showcases various techniques, as well as lingerie and haute couture, revealing the different aspects of lace as a quality textile. Its changing exhibition programme puts big fashion names and famous young designers such as Cristóbal Balenciaga, Anne-Valérie Hash, Iris Van Herpen and On Aura Tout Vu in the spotlight. The exhibition space is dedicated to modern art, textiles and fashion.