Bespoke designer Lana Gerimovich travelled to Bruges, Belgium to visit the lace museum called Kantcentrum. If you are into fashion, and history, first thing comes up in your mind might be its famous, beautiful lace. Where this lace museum is located at was considered to be a working class neighborhoods filled with lacemakers and lace schools back in the 19th and early 20th century called St. Anne. At that time, there are many lace makers on the streets to create beautiful laces with their meticulous techniques from the very young age children. Simply it is because this is the source of income for a lot of ladies in Bruges due to its growing lace industry as well as the great eyesight of children for tidy work like this due to lack of child labor regulations at that time. There was a design interest of elaborate decoration for the wealthy class rather than simplicity. Each lace project was done by hand and it was very expensive.
Once you enter the museum, you will see a massive amounts of information enriched with history and culture. This museum consists of interesting four parts: museum shops filled with supplies for lacemakers and lace souvenirs for visitors, short film by museum staff, exhibition of various laces, and hands-on workshops by experienced, certified lacemakers.
Welcome to Kantcentrum!
Greeted by a modern lace fashion
Millions of supplies!
We enjoyed so much about every tiny information plaque since each was written in various foreign languages such as Russian and Japanese! Along with lace making equipment, it says that the culture of handmade lace became a part of life in Bruges for five centuries.
Once you enter this dim room, this triangular shaped screen showed us a short film by museum staff.
Japanese museum staff
Mass manufacturing of lace in nowadays
After the short film, we entered the very informative exhibition of many kinds of laces. “Toveressewerk” or “Point de Fee” – this is called “work of fairy” which you can tell from its complex structure of Binche lace made out of very fine threads.
In 1889, Baron Liedts left the lace collection of his late wife, Baroness Augusta Liedts to the city of Bruges. This is the shawl in black chantilly lace from the mid 19th century.
We also saw this beautiful, long lace in the exhibition case which was actually no light unless you turned on in order to preserve the original color of this historical 17 century’s lace. During the lent, this religious lace cover was used in order to part the altar in church. Only the edge of it is made with bobbin lace, and other part is made of older laces such as fillet lace, net lace, and more.
This is the lace handkerchief edging in valenciennes with round mesh, which is typical for Bruges.
This lace is called Mechlin, another nickname is the queen of laces due to its complexity and enormous cost. This was meant as an official gift among royalty. Maria Theresa of Austria, who later became Empress of the Holy Roman Empire, wore a dress which the neckline was edged with Mechlin lace.
This Mechlin lace is from mid 18th century
This is a fusion of religious art and modern fashion. In 2001, famous fashion designer Ann Demeulemeester designed a gown for the statue of the Virgin Mary in Saint Andrew’s church in Antwerp.
Application on machine net and lille and paris bobbin lace
This beautiful lace collar is made of Point d’Angleterrer, English point, which is actually made in Brussels. During the 17 century, English parliament banned importing foreign laces in order to protect English lace manufacturers. However, English lacemakers could not make a quality lace like the ones made in Brussels. Thus, they smuggled laces and named them Point d’Angleterrer, English point.
Then, we walked into the workshop upstairs. There were several grandmothers who were making handmade laces with such a fast speed!! They pinned the pattern, then just go along with bobbins with the speed of light! One of them communicated us in common language which is our hands! She showed us by hand that she learned lace making when she was nine years old at the lace school, which was a norm at that time.
We are so grateful to see those grandmothers are proud of their precious skill of lace making, and keep their tradition still now here in Bruges. Kantcentrum museum also offer workshops where a teacher teaches several students this bobbin lace technique.
As a bespoke designer, Lana Gerimovich was inspired by its quality craftsmanship and historical “art of work” that still thrive today in Bruges, Belgium.