Lace is a fascinating fabric, beautiful, intricate, delicate yet deceptively strong and sexy too. When I'm out hunting for vintage I am always delighted to find an interesting piece of vintage lace or a vintage lace garment.
When I was young, I enjoyed some of my summer holidays in the country, where I stayed with a fat auntie who suffered from narcolepsy. She could fall asleep without warning during almost any activity including walking. On several occasions I entered her kitchen to find her asleep at the sink with her hand deep in a washing-up bowl. She often fell asleep while riding her bicycle. It was only due to quiet country roads and a few miracle escapes that she lived to be eighty-four.
My aunty was a collector of all things vintage. She hoarded anything old and although she had very little knowledge of what she was buying, her intuition was sound - she had a good eye. Her house was a vintage treasure trove, a messy jumble of Victoriana and early twentieth century bric-a-brac. She hardly ever left the house without returning with a newly acquired object and they weren't always small. In her garden stood a small private chapel that she used for the storage of large pieces of mostly dark brown furniture in need of restoration and a couple of pianos. Nothing that entered the chapel ever came out again.
A lace cushion she kept on the wide window seat in her parlour always fascinated me. She had bought it from a widower in her village, whose wife had inherited it from her grandmother. The last piece of lace the grandmother was working on before she died was still attached, as were all of the little bobbins and their threads. My aunt said it was Belgian and that the grandmother had been Scandinavian. The cushion was soft satin and the piece of lace attached was extremely fine. I wondered if the grandmother had glasses, or if she worked with a magnifying glass? Although I was told never to touch the cushion I regularly altered the position of many of the bobbins, knowing that it would never be noticed.
Maybe it was because of my fat aunty and the lace cushion that I have always been attracted to vintage lace. According to Wikipedia fine lace has been manufactured since the late fifteenth or early sixteenth century. Unfortunately I have had to content myself with viewing museum examples of these very early pieces and representations by artists, like Van Dyke.
Over the years, however, I have bought and sold several manufacturers' sample collections of vintage lace. I was recently very pleased to be able to purchase a large scrapbook of vintage novelty lace in many colourways and wide variety of designs - I do hope my scanner can do them justice.
This collection of vintage lace includes many large document swatches perfect for conversion, reference, trending or inspiration on mood-boards. Lace is definitely on-trend this year and will probably be much bigger in summer 2011. It looks as though almost any apparel manufactured for women this summer could be made with lace, have a lace trim or lace panel: blouses, skirts, dresses, t-shirts and even overcoats and bags will be appearing on the high street in lace. Vintage lace will be the inspiration for many of these products.
I didn't inherit my auntie's lace cushion. She left it to a female cousin who sold it.