Curtain Twitchers

To celebrate the launch of Selvedge 82, The Lace Issue, we've decided to give our readers a glimpse into Nicola Donovan's article about the democratisation of lace...

Fine, handmade lace was once a highly prized and extremely expensive textile beloved by those at the top of the social ladder. But it was of course produced for these upper echelons of society by a cottage industry that exploited those working on the bottom rungs, including very young children. When the arrival of mechanised lace production occurred in the mid-19th century, it issued a seismic shock to what were then established sartorial representations of wealth and status; now handmade lace could be credibly imitated.

This development of industrial lacemaking processes in turn upended the exclusivity of lace, and so wiped the value of handmade lace items to a fraction of their pre-industrial worth. This, effectively, put in motion the democratisation of this formerly exclusive fabric...

You can read this article in full in Selvedge 82, The Lace Issue.

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