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The Art of Lace: Haute couture from Chanel to Iris van Herpen

Start Date 16 November 2019
End Date 06 September 2020
Venue Textiel Museum
Location Tilburg, Netherlands
Curator Sylvie Marot
Designer Studio de Ronners
Exhibition display of dressed mannequins
Exhibition display of dressed mannequins

From Chanel to Dior to Jean Paul Gaultier, lace has been a source of inspiration for countless prestigious fashion houses. The Textiel Museum 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 more than 40 one-of-a-kind items by fashion greats Alberta Ferretti, Balenciaga, Chanel, Dior, Jean Paul Gaultier, Iris van Herpen, Louis Vuitton, Maison Margiela, Schiaparelli and Yiqing Yin.

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 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 videos 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.

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.

Photography exhibition: Aad Hoogendoorn, Josefina Eiksenaar | Curator: Sylvie Marot. Assistant curator: Adelheid Smit. | Photography panels: Robin, Philippe Schlienge

Press release

Image courtesy of TextielMuseum. Photo: William van der Voort i.o.v/TextielMuseum