Exhibition | Threads of Power

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on September 14, 2022

Opening this week at BGC:

Threads of Power: Lace from the Textilmuseum St. Gallen
Bard Graduate Center, New York, 16 September 2022 — 1 January 2023

Curated by Emma Cormack, Ilona Kos, and Michele Majer

“I love lace for evening dresses … for a cocktail frock … or for a blouse… . When a fabric is fancy in itself it needs simplicity of design to show it to its best advantage.” —Christian Dior

Point de France needle-lace frelange with lappets, Orne, France, ca. 1695, linen (Textilmuseum St. Gallen, acquisition from the John Jacoby Collection, 1954,01246; photo by Michael Rast).

Lace—delicate, sumptuous, enigmatic—takes over the Bard Graduate Center Gallery this fall. Trace the development of European lace from its sixteenth-century origins to the present day. See more than 150 examples of lace from the renowned collection of Switzerland’s Textilmuseum St. Gallen, including some of the world’s finest examples of handmade needle and bobbin lace that were favored by the wealthy and powerful of Bourbon France and Habsburg Spain. Learn about the women who crafted this sought-after status symbol by hand and about the evolution of Swiss chemical lace, known as guipure lace, made on embroidery machines. Explore new innovations in lace production, like laser-cut and 3D-printed lace, used in contemporary haute couture.

Curated by Emma Cormack, associate curator, Bard Graduate Center; Ilona Kos, curator, Textilmuseum St. Gallen; and Michele Majer, assistant professor, Bard Graduate Center. Threads of Power: Lace from the Textilmuseum St. Gallen is organized by Bard Graduate Center and the Textilmuseum St. Gallen. The exhibition will open at Bard Graduate Center Gallery in New York in September 2022 and will be available to tour after closing in January 2023.

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Emma Cormack and Michele Majer, eds., Threads of Power: Lace from the Textilmuseum St. Gallen (New York: Bard Graduate Center, 2022), 432 pages, ISBN: 978-0300263497, $75.

Tracing the history of lace in fashion from its sixteenth-century origins to the present, Threads of Power: Lace from the Textilmuseum St. Gallen offers a look at one of the world’s finest collections of historical lace. The book explores the longstanding connections between lace and status, addressing styles in lace worn at royal courts, including Habsburg Spain and Bourbon France, as well as lace worn by the elite ruling classes and Indigenous peoples in the Spanish Americas. Featuring new research, the publication covers a range of topics related to lace production, lace in fashion and portraiture, lace revivals, the mechanization of the lace industries in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and contemporary innovations in lace. With a focus on lace techniques, women lace makers, and lace as a signifier of wealth and power, this richly illustrated book includes wide-ranging contributions by curators and experts from major museums and academic institutions.


Director’s Foreword, Susan Weber
Editor’s Note

Introduction, Emma Cormack and Michele Majer

The Emergence of Lace in Early Modern Europe
1  Barbara Karl — Lace and Status: Luxury, Power, and Control in Early Modernity
2  Femke Speelberg — Putting a Name to Lace: Fashion, Fame, and the Production of Printed Textile Pattern Books
3  Paula Hohti Erichsen — ‘Monstrous’ Ruffs and Elegant Trimmings: Lace and Lacemaking in Early Modern Italy
4  Frieda Sorber — Antwerp, A Center of Lace Making and Lace Dealing, 1550–1750

Lace in Spain and the Americas, 1500–1800
5  Amalia Descalzo Lorenzo — The Triumph of Lace: Spanish Portraiture of the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries
6  Mariselle Méléndez — ‘A desire of being distinguished by an elegant dress is universal’: Clothing, Status and Convenience in Eighteenth-Century Spanish America
7  James Middleton — A Prodigious Excess: Lace in New Spain and Peru, ca. 1600–1800
8  Laura Beltrán-Rubio — ‘Covered in much fine lace’: Dress in the Viceroyalty of New Granada

The Dominance of France, 1660–1790
9  Denis Bruna — Lace and Economy under Louis XIV
10  Lesley Miller — Lace à la Mode, ca. 1690–1790

Mechanization and Revivalism: The Nineteenth Century Lace Industries
11  Emma Cormack and Michele Majer — Fashion and the Lace Industries in France, Belgium, and England, 1800–1900
12  Annabel Bonnin Talbot — Ahead of the Curve: A. Blackbourne & Co. and the Late-Nineteenth Century British Lace Industry
13  Emily Zilber — Italy to New York: Making Historic Textiles Modern at the Scoula d’Industrie Italiane
14  Anne Wanner-JeanRichard and Ilona Kos — Imitation and Inspiration: The Leopold Iklé Collection in St. Gallen

Innovations in Lace, 1900 to Today
15  Catherine Örmen — Fashion and Lace since 1900
16  Annina Dosch, Interview with Tobias Forster, Hans Schreiber, and Martin Leuthold — Lace in St. Gallen Today: Tradition and Innovation at Forster Rohner and Jakob Schlaepfer

Illustrated Checklist of the Exhibition
Glossary, compiled by Kenna Libes

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