Lace to Catch Someone’s Heart

Valentine’s Day is celebrated all over the world and there are many images and symbols associated with the festival, but some are more recognisable than others and are acknowledged worldwide as representing the romantic nature of the day. Lace is one of these true iconic symbols of Valentine’s Day, featuring on cards celebrating this holiday all over the world. So, why is this intricate material connected with this romantic festival and how can you incorporate it into your choice of gift? Lace is certainly one of the most beautiful fabrics with a sophisticated, gorgeous look that hints at sensuousness while embodying classic elegance. For centuries, it has been recognised as a luxury item and its association with Valentine’s Day dates back to the Middle Ages.

The Age of Chivalry

laceHundreds of years ago in a time of castles, warfare, helpless maidens and knights in armour, the code of chivalry was in place, dictating how courtly gentlemen should behave. Texts were written about this way of life, which dictated how a man should behave in his everyday demeanour as well as towards ladies. One popular custom at this time was the giving of “a favour” from a lady to her sweetheart to protect him and bring him luck as he rode into battle, and which also would remind him of her when he was away. The form that this favour often took would be the lady’s handkerchief which would be made from fine lace, and over the generations, this token has become associated with love and romance, leading to it becoming one of the most recognised Valentine’s Day symbols. Another common practice involving lace also endured until the Victorian era – a young lady who saw an attractive man and might want to catch his heart would drop her handkerchief beside him in the hope that he would pick it up, give it back to her, look deep into her eyes and fall in love immediately. Although this sounds bizarre, during this time men and women were never able to be alone together and girls were strictly chaperoned, so this simple, apparently careless act, would be one of the only ways to attract a man’s attention.

The History of Lace

lace makerIt is easy to see why lace would be a perfect token of love for a lady to give her true love when you look at its long and illustrious history. The earliest forms of lace have existed for centuries – beautiful fine nets and open woven fabrics, however the fabric that we recognise today as lace probably first originated in the early part of the 16th century. Early images of lace on clothing exist from 1561, and from this point until the end of the century, lace development really took off to become one of the most popular forms of decoration for clothing and furniture. Although it is not known precisely where lace evolved, it is strongly associated with the city of Venice, which was a key trading hub during that period, and it is here that the first lace pattern books in existence were printed. By the beginning of the 17th century, skilled workers were producing lace by hand across Spain, France, England and Flanders and lace was traded across European borders, being used for the collars and ruffs that were in vogue at that time. Machine-made lace began to be produced at the end of the 18th century when the industrial revolution took Britain by storm and the fabric became even more widespread, with the handmade product virtually disappearing by 1900. Today, lacemaking by hand is usually only done for pleasure, although the material itself is as popular as ever, adorning clothing and decorative items to this very day.

Beautiful Lace Valentine’s Day Gifts for Her

Lace remains an ever-popular Valentine’s Day gift for a girlfriend or a wife thanks to its luxurious and delicate appearance. Surprise your loved one this February 14th with some gorgeous lacy underwear, a pretty lace blouse, lace-patterned jewellery or stunning lacy scarf to complement her favourite outfits. She is sure to appreciate the elegance and beauty of this traditional and sophisticated gift which represents love and romance just as much today as it did hundreds of years ago. If you are looking for other ways to incorporate the iconic Valentine’s symbol of lace into your special day, why not wrap your gift in lacy fabric or give her a card decorated with this gorgeous material. What better way to capture the romance of the occasion?