Many think French lace must be the best simply because it costs so much more than other laces, and because everyone highlights French lace. But is it really special? Will it make a difference to your gown? Is it really worth all that extra money?
Lace is just lace isn’t it?!?
I get asked all the time: “Does French lace need to be from France?”
HELL YES!!! French lace is French because it has been manufactured in France. If you were to purchase a French car, the car will have been made in France. It is the same with lace.
If you want to look amazing on your wedding day, do you get French lace just because it’s the best? Is it? How can you tell? What is French lace and how is it different to other lace?
I can tell the difference, but then I’ve worked with European fabrics for over 25 years. Lets have a closer look at some of the facts…
According to the Museum of Lace in Calais (Northern France), there are only SIX manufacturers of lace in France in 2016. Six! They are:
Sophie Hallette (my favourite)
(If your supplier can’t name the lace mill, you should reconsider shopping with them.)
As you may have guessed from these names, ‘la dentelle’ is lace in French. The French started creating lace in 1816, and continue to make some of the finest and most beautiful laces on the planet. They tend to be light weight, delicate, intricate and strong. And the range of designs is astounding.
They are mostly Chantilly lace (where the design and the tulle structure are created at the same time on special (leavers) looms). Most are available in ivory and ecru (the French create very little optical white).
When a small cord is stitched around the lace design, this gives more definition and creates depth to the design, and is known as corded chantilly.
When glass beads are added to this lace (mostly in India), striking and stunning effects can be achieved known as beaded chantilly lace.
So how are laces made in other parts of the world?
There are other manufactures of lace around the world, surely their lace is the same? Well, yes and no!
Here’s how they’re different….
The French are masters of super fine lace that is intricately detailed and light weight.
A large quantity of chantilly lace is manufactured in China. The Chinese laces tend to be somewhat chunkier and heavier. Some designers prefer to use the Chinese laces if they are beading as as the base tends to be more rigid.
The french have been creating lace on the same looms for 200 years, so their range of lace designs is extensive and their new designs are ahead of the game and intriguing. Other manufactures have only recently accomplished designs which do not look machine made. They are becoming more skilled with each new season.
The French have a preference for a nylon/polyamide mesh base, with the design created in the natural fibres silk, cotton and rayon (viscose). The Chinese tend to use polyester, nylon and cotton for their design.
The natural fibres have a warmer / cleaner feel when touched, whilst the synthetic fibres have a plastic feel to them.
The edge of many laces looks like eye lashes (and is so named), and the French have perfected the art of delicate yet stunning lash edges.
Overall, if you are seeking a fine lace which falls beautifully, feels lovely and is available in interesting designs, French lace is the way to go. If you’d like your gown to be lacey and find a design that you love, or are after something beaded at a good price, then it won’t matter to you if don’t buy from France.
Please don’t forget to verify if it is actually French lace before you buy! And…
PS: Please, let us know below if you prefer your lace beaded or un-beaded in the comments below!