Friday, July 1, 2022 Jul 1, 2022
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A romantic gesture von can see through

A strategically placed bit of lace can do more for romance than all of cupid’s love-tipped bows and arrows. Depending on the affaire de coeur, your lacy look can be flirty or demure or devastatingly sexy. And it’s more subtle than a Valentine’s Day card with your telephone number.

After the recent trends of menswear-inspired togs and oversized everything, it’s a relief to know that it’s okay-even fashionable-to get back to the basics of femininity. And lace, like a good set of shoulder pads, is a must accouterment for romantic dressing.

You don’t have to raid your grandmother’s cedar chest to retrieve the ecru curls and loops of fashions past: a whole new generation of lace is on the market to help transform modern wardrobes. Today’s lace is transformable, and most importantly, detachable. It can turn plain denim into prairie chic or rejuvenate tired velvet. It’s sea soilless, and its value only increases with age. Traditionally, handmade Battenburg or tatting lace collars have been the most popular way to soften or sophisticate a wardrobe. But, with the advent of machine-made lace, designers are coming up with ways to keep the sentiment in dressing high while keeping the costs low. Alice Riggins is one local designer who specializes in several basic styles. “Romance is on the rise,” the former model says as she Hips through her port-folio of lacy jabots (similar to ascots but both narrower and shorter), scarves, belts, collars, cuffs, and pocket stuf-fers. “Lace,” she says, “is light and delicate, can be worn several different ways, and never goes out of style.”

Two of the most innovative uses of lace are Riggins’s fanny wrap (a scarf wrapped asymmetrically around the hips) and the fingerless lace mitts, which evoke visions of Victorian palace parties.

“Men love lace,” says Riggins, who holds trunk shows at shops like Culwell & Sons and Pamela’s to show customers how to wear the versatile accessories. “While women will pick out more contemporary pieces,” she says, “men always go for frilly when they’re picking out lace for their wives or girlfriends.” Last year alone, Riggins’s business more than doubled.

On a smaller scale, Elena Cola of Pins and Bobbins in the craft-crowded 011a Podrida is finding out just how popular lace has become. Business is so brisk that Cola is having a hard time holding on to her own lace collars. Customers are buying lace Cola happens to be wearing and are snatching up pieces that she’s got in the works. Cola, who learned the art of lacemak-ing as a little girl in Italy, painstakingly makes each collar by hand, selecting the pattern and then matching the threads to it.

Collars and scarves, whether machine- or handmade, generally run between $30 and $45, with smaller pieces costing less. Riggins’s fanny wrap retails for around $50 at Culwell & Sons and Pamela’s. And unlike the brittle pieces of lace you might have inherited, most of today’s pieces can be washed by hand and then ironed. (Cola suggests framing heirloom pieces.)

White and ecru laces made of cotton, linen, or rayon remain Ilic best buys tor daytime dressing, and nights can sparkle with gold or mother-of-pearl-threaded evening collars. But back to romance. For Valentine’s Day passion, there’s only one sure bet: those black lace creations that are best carried home in a plain brown wrapper.

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