Monday, 23 February 2015

A Magnet for Lace!

Having always planned McBurney and Black to be a resource for linen, Irish Linen in particular, my intentions are being hijacked by the wonderful laces, ribbons and trims that keep coming my way. I said to a friend last week that I felt I had become a magnet for lace!

I find it hard to resist the frequent shoebox of lace that beckons and I find that my customers too are enjoying the variety in the shop. What is also fun is to find images of how the lace might have been worn at the time. I recently spied some wonderful postcards, old studio portraits from the early 1900s – here we can see the importance of lace!

In their Sunday best, the men and women were placed in formal poses and then their images captured by the photographer. Whilst I am always intrigued to see the costumes and attire of the time, it is sad that so many years later these images have just been discarded. But they tell us so much about the dress of the period.

One portrait is of a lady standing by a balustrade with a backdrop of a woodland behind her. With her hat perched at a jaunty angle and gloves held tightly is one  hand, she gazes into the distance looking rather miserable, it has to be said.

On the reverse of the photo in wonderful flowing letters is the greeting: Love and all good wishes to Nellie and George from Gussie. I assume that the lady is Gussie herself and she was obviously happy enough to use the portrait as a greeting card, so perhaps her look is a serious or pensive expression rather than a sad one! Just look at the wonderful crocheted lace collar sitting at the neck of the coat.

The second image has been taken by H.J Cowley of The Country Studio, Stroud. A market town in Gloucestershire, this photographic studio would have been the place to go for the country folk of the area wanting a formal portrait to mark a special occasion. An engagement perhaps, or a family gathering.

This image is of a couple in their 20s look unsmiling at the camera, again in rather formal pose. It seems that the idea of smiling for the photographer is one that came later. A huge corsage of flowers adorns the girl’s high necked blouse and if we zoom in , the detail and embellishment of the piece is quite superb. A plain dark skirt, but a very detailed lace trimmed blouse with pintucking and smocking to the front. Her beau has a smartly starched white shirt and they look a handsome pair.

So it looks as if I am destined to offer these beautifully handworked embellishments as well as my Irish Linen specialties! 

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