In Bruges, city of lace and lace-makers

In Bruges, city of lace and lace-makers

For lovers of fine and handmade lace, the ideal destination for a weekend out brings the tradition and history of sophisticated white yarns, can only be Bruges. Capital, together with Brussels, of the famous Flanders lace, the city of canals, called "the Venice of the North", where lovers exchange passionate kisses in front of the Lake of love, has always been synonymous with "lace". From the sixteenth century onwards, as an important center of production and export throughout Europe, and today, as a reference point for the craftsmanship of the artefact: there are hundreds of women in Bruges and Brussels who still make complex creations by hand, sometimes using up to 100 wires per coil. But to know everything about Flanders lace, just spend a few days in the jewel town of Belgium. & Nbsp;

It was 1970 when the "Kantcentrum" was opened in Bruges, a museum dedicated to the stories that were hidden behind the Flanders lace, and a real production center, with the depositors of the sophisticated technique of making lace. A must for fans and the curious who were in the city and who wanted to learn how to work the artifact. In fact, in the center since then, real training courses are held, available at all times of the year and with lessons for children, at & nbsp; amateurs and those who are determined to become a professional. And after about forty years, for the very particular museum the time comes to rebuild the look: the "Kantcentrum", on September 19, 2014, opens its doors in the school of the Apostoline Sisters of Balstraat 16, previously restored. In the new site, in addition to the charm of the exhibits, space is given to narrative aspects and tangible experiences: the visit allows you to fully immerse yourself in the historical and cultural events related to lace, and with different insights, ranging from the technical peculiarities to the variety of manufactured, thanks also to the use of advanced technological supports.

Spread over three rooms, the museum contains multimedia installations and “touch screen” applications: tools and production techniques are thus discovered, partly borrowed from previous works, but also stories of commercial success and the luck of the lace within the assets of luxury; we learn, moreover, the role of women in the processing of lace and that of Bruges, in its production and distribution; still, we learn about the use of lace today in the fashion world. Then there is a selection of precious pieces from the various Bruges museums. And it is precisely the city that, with its lace makers, schools, famous models and local craft shops, presents itself to visitors as the best guide and the most complete open-air museum on the history of Flanders lace. The "Lace Center" is in fact often only the final stage of interesting thematic itineraries for tourists. & Nbsp; Unmissable and true gem of the museum, the room where it is possible to admire the lace-makers at work, in religious silence and concentration, for make the most beautiful creations of this ancient art. Famous throughout the world, the Bruges lace & nbsp; has always been characterized by & nbsp; two different techniques: needle and bobbin; the latter, used for the production of artifacts with floral motifs and discontinuous threads. The style of the drawings should be distinguished between the "fine flowers" and the "duchesse" style, where in the first case the motif and the yarn are less precious than the second, decidedly more refined (more information on www.kantcentrum.eu). & Nbsp;

It was Emperor Charles V who decreed, in the mid-sixteenth century, that lace became a compulsory competence for all the women of convents and beghinages in Flanders. Since then, the trade in fabrics has increased considerably, and reached its peak in the 18th century, when it began to go fashionable to insert lace in the necks and cuffs of high-class clothes. Bruges immediately established itself as a reference point for the production of Flanders lace, a manufacture that quickly took the form of real artistic creations, gaining a very important economic and social weight. Exports grew out of all proportion, and sophisticated designs were increasingly used as a source of inspiration for dressmakers and designers from all over Europe. In particular, it was Italian lace makers, especially from Venice, who fell in love with it. From the nineteenth century the category of professionals began to be regulated and protected. In addition, in the convents of the Sisters of the Assumption of the Madonna or of the Apostoline, highly professionalizing training courses were beginning to be held, and in the meantime, they specialized in manufacturing the artifact.

To better understand the extent of the phenomenon, suffice it to say that in the mid-nineteenth century, Bruges had no less than 82 schools, capable of pulling over 2300 professionals in just one year. From 1850 onwards, the work of lace began to be carried out at home, and managed by intermediaries in search of great profits, to the detriment of lace makers: most of the 10 thousand active employees at the time earned less than half the average salary in the country . After the First World War, the demand for handmade lace collapses drastically, up to the present day, with the economic activity linked to its production practically non-existent. And yet, the city of Bruges has always been committed to preserving and passing on the knowledge of this ancient art. And although Belgian lace is now sold essentially as a souvenir, its quality always remains the highest of the Renaissance. For information: www.turismofiandre.it.

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Events in Bruges