BELGIAN LACE IS ANOTHER OF THE COUNTRY’S FAMOUS EXPORTS:
Belgium is famous for its chocolates and beers, but one important Belgian export which is perhaps not too well-publicised is Belgian lace. Belgium’s lacemakers have been a vital contributor to the country’s economy since the 12th century and if you’re interested in lace, Brussels and Bruges are two of the best lace producing centres.
The Emperor’s Edict
Belgium’s lace trade began in the early Renaissance when Emperor Charles V decreed that lace-making should be a compulsory skill for all girls in convents and beguinages throughout Flanders. A fashion at that time was to have lace on collars and cuffs for both men’s and women’s garments and the lace trade reached its peak in the 18th century.
Lace, as well as tapestry were highly prized luxury crafts in the past. It was a status symbol of nobility to own intricate lace and fine tapestry
and the good lace-makers usually had aristocratic patrons buying up their work. The lace fashion still comes around every now and then and I’m sure that ladies of a certain age will remember owning a blouse with lace collar at some stage.
Belgium’s World-Class Lace
Belgium is today home to the best lace and tapestry studios in the world and if you’re interested in lace, Brussels and Bruges are renowned for their delicate lacework. The larger and more intricate pieces of lace are not cheap, but it’s possible to buy small pieces as souvenirs or gifts. All around town in Brussels and Bruges you’ll come across shops selling lace and tapestry and in fact in most Belgian souvenir shops you can buy beautiful little pieces of lacework for a few Euros.
If you appreciate lacework, the Musée du Costum et de la Dentelle documents the history of this craft. The ground floor of the museum has lace costumes from the 18th – 20th centuries and on the second floor are a collection of antique lace.
Musee du Costume et de la Dentelle
Rue de la Violette 12