Crochet lace does wonders for the skin. The most delicate, intricate and feminine of all fabrics, the craftsmanship and skills of those who made its complex designs - women in post famine era Ireland - did wonders for families, saving them from destitution.
It was reckoned that in 1852 some 20,000 were earning a living from lacemaking with famous varieties coming from Youghal in Cork, Carrickmacross and Limerick. When Queen Mary needed a lace train for a visit to India in 1911, 60 lacemakers in Youghal had to work shifts day and night for six months.
Lace’s ethereal decorative luxury has always been alluring – European portraits from the 16th and 17th century show how it displayed wealth and status, encircling the neck and wrists in fragile pearlescent flounces. In its ability to conceal as well as reveal it has always possessed both a seductive and virginal quality which explains its enduring association with weddings and bridal trousseaux. Who can forget Grace Kelly’s lace bridal gown which in turn inspired that of Kate Middleton and thousands of other women? Or more recently, Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s famous statement lace collars?
Ireland still maintains its lacemaking skills. I visited the Carrickmacross Lace Gallery two years ago and saw exquisite examples of Monaghan’s continuing artistry using the same techniques as 200 years ago. On display were christening gowns, wedding and communion veils to liturgical vestments, blouses and collars.
Here at Stable, the exquisite specially commissioned crochet lace top was inspired by an Irish vintage piece from the 1960s handwoven for Francie’s mother; the modern version which took its maker some sixty hours to complete comes in 2ply organic cotton thread and can be made to order in white or black. An heirloom piece to be cherished and worn, its great appeal is that no matter what way it is worn, in daylight or nighttime, it will flatter any woman of any age as, in its time honoured way, lace has always done.