June 14, 2015
Classic Laces: Fashion, Status, and Civilization
talk by Cecilia Anderson

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From the sixteenth to the eighteenth centuries, European fashion in clothing and furnishings depended on exquisitely delicate and wildly expensive handmade lace. Lace, an ornamental openwork fabric most commonly executed in fine white linen, is a uniquely European textile form that developed and flourished during the few centuries in which Europeans were establishing global colonial empires. As Europeans encountered Native Americans, Africans, and Asians, they developed ideas of gentility and civilization to differentiate themselves, including a concept of cleanliness through the use and display of fine, white, and lace-trimmed body linens. In this talk I will consider two main types of fashion laces, needle lace and bobbin lace, covering their histories, techniques, and identification, and exploring their origins and social context within developing European concepts of gentility in a global age.

Cecilia Gunzburger Anderson is a textile historian, museum curator, and teacher currently serving as Faculty in The Smithsonian Associates/George Mason University M.A. program in the History of Decorative Arts. Previously, she was Assistant Curator at The Textile Museum in Washington, DC, where she organized an exhibition and symposium on Navajo weaving with Ann Hedlund, a leading scholar of Navajo textiles. Cecilia has published and lectured on indigenous Mexican weaving, contemporary fiber art, and other topics, including the standard reference on textile cataloging terminology for museums, and has organized exhibitions on a global range of textile topics. She holds an M.A. in Fashion and Textile Studies from the SUNY Fashion Institute of Technology in New York and a B.A. in Anthropology from the University of Tennessee.

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