The fashion world has flirted with lace and lace-edged garments throughout history but until fairly recently the decorative fabric has often been hidden in the underwear drawer or confined to white brides’ dresses.
However, over the last few years, lace has been threading its way back into the fashion world, now adding its delicate charm to wedding outfits at Compton House.
Lace, which strictly speaking is a fabric made from threads woven in an open web of patterns, first started appearing in needlework books in the early 16th century. One of the earliest mentions was made in a Zurich bobbin pattern book about lace imported from Italy. As you might expect Venice was one of the cities which started spinning, as interest in lace increased. At this time it was all made by hand with a single thread, called needle lace or multiple threads, which was bobbin lace and would often decorate the edges of shirts and smocks. As the industry and fashions expanded soon there was a call for gold and silver laced-gloves giving fashions an almost regal air.
Fast forward to the 21st century and lace has weaved its way back as the fabric of choice for many modern designers’ wedding outfits at Compton House, used for dresses as well as lacing the edges of many jackets, bodices and skirts.
Lace is no longer just white, frilly or racy, depending on your point of view, but appears in a rainbow of colours and styles to suit all ages.
Still thinking of dodgy red lacy underwear considered sexy by your well-meaning ex in the 1980s?
No, lace has better fashion credentials than that as it was actually the fabric worn by Audrey Hepburn; her iconic Ascot dress in My Fair Lady was made from it and a well-chosen lace outfit can work just as well for a special occasion or wedding today.
Ann Balon’s collection of outfits uses exquisite Venetian lace in all sorts of ways. There are pencil-shaped dresses or longer swishy skirts for those of you preferring something less fitted. There are asymmetric designs as well as fluted skirts and ruffled hems which often match the gentle rippled edge of the accompanying jacket. Almost like a gentle breeze lifting and turning the fabric. The variety of colours and styles on offer are quite dazzling with bright, punchy shades for a real statement so you can be dazzling at a wedding or special occasion, or go for more muted colours for a softer look. There is also a very stylish, lace trouser suit for a less girly appearance.
You can see the intricate lace designs with little swatch pictures on the Compton House website to fully get a feel of the fabric. If you want less lace, you could always try other wedding outfits at Ann Balon which have longer-line lace jackets over stretch patterned fabric.
At Condici, Venetian lace is used for the bodices of some dresses. At Ian Stuart, a soft coffee-coloured dress has a lace stole and truly elegant lace-effect straps.
And you’ll see lace popping up as the perfect trimming to other wedding outfits as you browse through the collections. At Irresistible, there is a black fit and flare dress with lace sleeves and bodice, perfect for many formal occasions and a good way to cover up your arms whether for warmth or to hide any unsightly excesses of the season.
The Linea Raffaelli collection has a lovely, lacy green bolero jacket over a lighter coloured longer gown which is a nice, elegant look for a wedding with a vintage vibe.
For another striking look see the knee length black lace coat at Cabotine, worn over the lightest whisper-of-pink dress. The jacket is tied with a very large on-trend bow to match the dress. The bow is not quite as large as those that adorned Audrey Hepburn’s racing outfit back in the 1964 film, but the effect is just as stylish.