Fashion: For the love of lace
Lace – finely-made, intricate and decadent – has always had an inherent sexiness to it. It can often be seen on lingerie worn by models walking for Victoria’s Secret to the provocative purchases from luxury brands like La Perla. But, the use of lace in lingerie only began during the world wars, when women took on jobs traditionally done by men and needed lighter lingerie to work comfortably. Manufacturers then started creating lingerie using lighter and softer fabrics, lace being one of them.
However, what many do not know is that lace was once a fabric used only by Catholic clergymen and royalty. Queen Elizabeth I was a high-profile laceophile. She would often be seen wearing a matching lace veil, fan and skirt. In the 17th century, lace made its way to Northern Europe and was used to adorn everything from dresses to doorknobs. After its boom in the 1700s, lace lost its popularity (thanks to the French Revolution, the destruction of the French court and its luxury industries) and came back into fashion only towards the beginning of the 19th century.
The flapper chic looks of the 1920s (think The Great Gatsby) were often recognised by below-the-knee lace dresses and soon it became synonymous with bridal dresses. In 1956, Grace Kelly got married in an elegant lace gown. Back home, in Teesri Manzil (1966), Helen’s famous flamenco dress in red featured a lace hemline. During the ’80s, Madonna-approved stretchy lace tops were worn with leggings by almost all the teenage girls.
In 1981, one of Rekha’s most memorable looks in the film Silsila was a white salwar-kameez, worn with a lace dupatta. Sonam Kapoor also wore a champagne Chantilly lace bridal gown, when she became the first Bollywood showstopper for iconic couturier Ralph & Russo at Paris Fashion Week in 2017.
In 2008, Prada started a lace renaissance of sorts, which kick-started a high-street movement in fashion. For its Spring-Summer 2020 show, Alexander McQueen presented upcycled lace in multiple variations of ivory, with lichen lace, guipure lace inspired by Irish crochet techniques. In India, gota, a golden lace from Lucknow, is ubiquitous for any bridal outfit. It can be seen on presentations by designers like Abu Jani Sandeep Khosla and Ritu Kumar among others.
Lace, the fabric once associated with lingerie, is now having its moment. And here’s how you can style it for various occasions...
Keep it formal in a high-neck
Add a little Downton Abbey magic to your outfit
Here’s some trivia: Buttoned-up lace blouses were even worn by Victorian men in 17th century. This new-age version of the classic lace blouse can become a wardrobe staple.
Style it with: “With broad-leg trousers or you can even go lace-on-lace with a skirt,” says fashion and costume designer Neeta Lulla.
Accessorise by: “Sticking to pearls. It gets a bit difficult as lace has the scary chance of getting entangled in the fragile details of this textile,” she says.
Keep you hair & make-up: “Mystical and feminine. A bold punctuation of cherry lipstick works,” she adds.
Best suited for: “An hourglass figure,” Neeta says.
Avoid: Pairing colours from the same family. “Dark-coloured lace can be paired with nude so that the delicate details of lace are beautifully enhanced,” she recommends.
Pair a lace dress with a blazer for Zoom meetings
Lace can now be easily styled for casual meetings
Once the fabric meant for fabulous parties during the European Renaissance, this lace dress can easily take you from your desk to dinner.
Style it with: “A leather blazer,” says fashion designer Shruti Sancheti.
Accessorise by: “Wearing dainty diamonds or pearls,” she recommends.
Keep you hair & make-up: “Simple. Pink cheeks, lip tint and nude eyes would look gorgeous,” Shruti says.
Best suited for: “Someone petite,” she says.
Avoid: “Wearing lace with anything neon. It kills its beauty,” she warns.
Slip into a white lace dress for brunch
Swap the little black dress for a white one
A playful yet sophisticated white lace dress is perfect for any occasion; Dress, Basque; shoes, Oceedee; jewellery, FOReT
This playful yet sophisticated white dress is perfect for any day (or night) event. Its silhouette skims lightly over the body and promises enough movement if you feel like dancing the night away.
Style it with: “A statement belt if you want to transition the dress from day to night,” says fashion designer Yadvi Agarwal of Yavi.
Accessorise by: “Wearing delicate gold jewellery,” she suggests.
Keep you hair & make-up: “Natural,” she says.
Best suited for: “A slimmer structure as it is body-fitted. However, the cut of the dress does give the illusion of length and can make you look less bulky,” she says.
Avoid: “Overdoing your make-up,” she advises.
Pick a lace shirt for an evening soirée
Meet the fail-proof party starter
This see-through blouse can seem a bit risqué at first. But, when paired with the right inner-wear, it can create a statement by itself.
Style it with: “High-waist palazzos or culottes. You can even wear it over your bikini if you’re at the beach,” says Yadvi Agarwal.
Accessorise by: “Wearing statement earrings,” she adds.
Keep you hair & make-up: “Bold. Tie a bun and do smoky eyes,” she suggests.
Best suited for: “Any body type as it is pretty loose,” Yadvi says.
Avoid: “Wearing lace that easily wears out,” she cautions.
Wear a lace-trimmed kurta to a puja
This neon-coloured kurta is perfect for family get-togethers
Simple silhouettes can often stand out with details. This demure yet feminine cut features delicate lace details and a vibrant colour, that can make any intimate gathering buoyant.
Style it with: “A dupatta with lace edges,” says fashion and costume designer Neeta Lulla.
Accessorise by: “A simple, classic strand of pearls,” she says.
Keep you hair & make-up: “Graceful. Stick to dewy skin and slightly blushed cheeks,” she says.
Best suited for: “Anyone who wants to add a touch of femininity to their ensemble,” she explains.
Avoid: “Contrast lining on light colours,” she says.
From HT Brunch, January 10, 2021
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