Exhibition Review: Lace in Contemporary Haute Couture
I had the opportunity to visit Calais, a town in northern France, known as the capital of lace. Because of its proximity to England, the town became a pioneering force in lace production in the 1800s, and is still world-renowned for its trademark and high-quality lace production. Known as dentelle in French, the fabric created in this town is now used by brands such as Chanel and La Perla.
Calais also has a fashion museum dedicated to everything lace: Cité Internationale de la Dentelle et de la Mode de Calais. It features a permanent exhibition explaining the global history of the material, and the city’s role in its storied success. But I was especially drawn to “Haute Dentelle,” the temporary exhibition exploring lace in today’s haute couture collections.
The exhibition featured a number of displays from couturiers, all dating from 2012-2018. It was nice to see a fashion exhibition with such modern pieces. Imagine the format of a Metropolitan Museum Costume Institute exhibition, only much smaller and a lot more intimate (there were no glass screens covering the pieces). Another great addition to the exhibition were the display swatches of the exact lace patterns used for each piece featured next to the wall texts, which visitors were allowed to touch.
We were accompanied by a tour guide who came prepared with a tablet and was therefore able to show us photos of the dresses featured on celebrities on red carpets, as well as commercials for brands’ perfumes where the exact dresses were worn. The exhibition also featured a video component that showed the dresses on the runway in their respective couture seasons.
All of the pieces are highly-detailed and meticulously embroidered, many requiring thousands of hours of handwork. The knowledge and passion of the tour guide, as well as the magnificent clothing on display, made for a great exhibition, and once again solidified fashion as an art.
The exhibition will be on view until January 6, 2019.
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