We did it first... lace dresses

Katharine Wootton

Senior news writer, Monday, 11 July 2016

It’s a style that has threaded through history but the lace trend is once again at fever pitch

If there’s one look women have turned to again and again for timeless elegance, it has to be lace. The go-to fabric for brides and catwalk queens, the basis of everything from gloves to undergarments, for all ages and in all eras, lace has to be one of the hardest working fashions around.

Helen Mirren loves a lace dress

Look at any red carpet event and you’ll see stars resplendent in lace. Sometimes it’s a teasing full-lace dress, sometimes pretty lace appliqué at the hem or neckline or the ever-popular subtly sophisticated lace sleeves. Helen Mirren recently wowed in a navy blouse and skirt combination at the Eye in the Sky London premiere. But the classic lace look we love today is one we’ve really inherited from years and years of lovely lace, typically worn and made iconic by some of the biggest Hollywood stars and royalty of yesteryear.

Grace Kelly's lace wedding dress

One of the most famous lace looks has to be Grace Kelly’s wedding gown. Remembered as one of themost beautiful wedding gowns of all time, it was made by Helen Rose, a costume designer in the MGM wardrobe department, for Grace’s marriage to Prince Rainer III of Monaco in 1956. The simple rose pointlace bodice and veil, with a bell-shaped satin skirt and beautiful lace train made us all fantasise about our own white wedding to a prince.

Kate Middleton's lace wedding dress

Royal wedding

One fashion follower who got the chance to recreate the magic of Grace’s fairytale wedding was Kate Middleton, who appeared to draw inspiration from the star’s bridal style when she married Prince William in a similarly graceful, lace wedding dress created by Alexander McQueen. Since then, Kate has continued to show off her love of lace in a number of outfits that perfectly complement her elegant style and stature. Many of the biggest stars of the silver screen have shown a penchant for lace with the likes of Judy Garland, Ava Gardner, Rita Hayworth, Doris Day and Marilyn all sporting lace in some stunning outfits.

Biba lace cullottes

But in the Sixties, lace wasn’t just for Sunday best and red carpet celebs, as the fashion house Biba came out with a lace cullotte suit. This 1964 design showed how lace could work on more minimal silhouettes and in more casual settings, too, encouraging another generation of trendsetters to take a chance on lace. In the Seventies, lace evolved into the even more everyday, more affordable broderie anglaise,which incorporated elements of lacemaking as well as embroidery and cutwork. Lace-like fabric details graced the bottom of floaty skirt hems, edges of flared sleeves and poked through blouses. There’s no doubt lace will continue to be an heirloom style we pass lovingly onto each generation.

 

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