All About Lace
THE HISTORY OF DENTELLE (LACE)
DENTELLE DE CALAIS-CAUDRY is a trademark that distinguishes lace produced in the north of France, in 2 cities: Calais & Caudry. The lace is produced on LEAVERS machines, most of which are 120+ years old. This lace is viewed as one of the highest quality in the world. These looms exist nowhere else but Calais and Caudry and they have landmark historical status. The looms can no longer be reproduced, only repaired and must stay in France. They cannot be exported to any other country in the world.
The entire loom is made from pieces welded by hand. It is about 5 meters long and is made up of thousands of hand wound bobbins. To change the loom from one pattern to another takes more than a day. There is a master craftsman who continuously walks on a platform in front of the looms to check for defects in the lace.
Producing the base lace, known as CHANTILLY Lace, is a slow process and a very delicate one. Each lace needs to be produced on the same loom. Once off the loom the lace is checked by hand and prepared for dyeing. Dyeing is also done by hand in large vats. Once dyed the lace is checked again and all the little threads connecting the flowers are cut away by hand, and scalloped and checked yet again. It is then measured, folded and shipped.
If the lace is ALENÇON, it is then hand corded to give it a three dimensional look. This is done by specially trained workers who have undergone a lengthy apprenticeship of several years. There is NO substitute for this type of lace and true authentic Alençon must be produced from a French Chantilly based lace.
LYON LACE is produced on looms that are even older, 150+ years. Only 3 looms remain in existence. The production of this lace is even slower - 35cm/hour. The looms rather than being horizontal are vertical. Once headed for oblivion and destruction from ages of wear, the looms have just undergone a 3 year refurbishment to allow them to once again produce this lace of the highest quality. This lace is also corded by hand by even more specialized artisans. Only a handful of workers in the world are allowed to work on this lace. Look for the varied backgrounds and weights. It is truly unlike anything else!
The process from the first day on the loom to finished yardage is 10-20 weeks for Chantilly and 4-6 months for Alençon (corded) lace.
Only the finest veil and dress houses across the world use these types of lace.
Only lace from these 2 cities can be called FRENCH LACE. There are no substitutes!