The city of Salvador is home to some of the world’s most dramatic, traditional lace dresses, and German photographer Anne Menke has captured it in film. The traditional dress worn by the women of Bahia is called Baiana de Acarajé, and typically features a silhouette made up of a voluptuous, elaborate headdress coupled with a white broderie anglaise dress with many layers including white cotton pants worn underneath a long, voluminous skirt, and a bodice gathered at the waist that typically hangs over the skirt.
Coupled with an abundance of colourful, statement jewellery, this ensemble is an homage to the Afro-Brazilian religion of Candomblé. In a region of Brazil where many of its population are of African descent, this traditional white dress symbolises one of the Candomblé deities known as Oxala. In a culture historically ruled by the Portuguese and thus steeped in Catholicism, this religion was a way for slaves to combine their own African religions with Catholicism, while appearing to be abiding by Portuguese rule.
For more about lace, you can order your copy of Selvedge issue 82 here.