In May 1900, lace was a popular fashion trend in women’s clothing, and the more costly the lace, the more it was worn by the affluent and fashionable. This presented an opportunity to help the Limerick lace market which had been held in high esteem for many years and rivaled the finest Continental lace in beauty and grace. Honiton and other types of lace also held their own against Continental lace fabrics.
An organization called the Congested Districts Board in Dublin had been working to foster the growth of industrial populations in poor neighborhoods, resulting in an increase in hand-made lace. At the request of Queen Victoria, the Board had shown her examples of the work, and the Queen had made many purchases of Irish lace. She had also bought lace from other places.
London tradesmen were encouraged to take advantage of the Queen’s preference for Limerick lace and give it the foremost place in their offerings. Ladies of fashion were encouraged to specifically ask for it. A woman who paid close attention to fashion stated that she had never before seen such a general exhibition of costly laces as could be seen in the great shops of London at that time.
The popularity of Limerick lace in fashion during this time period was not just a fleeting trend. In fact, it was a trend that had been building for years. Lace had been used in clothing for centuries, but it became particularly fashionable during the 19th century. Queen Victoria was a notable fan of lace, and her love for it helped to popularize it even more.
Limerick lace was seen as a symbol of wealth and refinement, and it was often associated with the upper class. However, as industrialization progressed, Limerick lace became more affordable and accessible to the middle class as well. This helped to cement its place as a staple in women’s fashion.
The popularity of Limerick lace during this time period was not just due to its beauty and elegance. It was also seen as a way to support struggling communities in Ireland. The Congested Districts Board in Dublin had been working to create jobs and stabilize impoverished neighborhoods, and the production of Irish lace was one way to do that. By purchasing Limerick lace, people were not just buying a beautiful piece of clothing; they were also supporting a greater cause.
Today, lace continues to be a popular fashion trend. Although it may not be as ubiquitous as it once was, it is still seen as a symbol of elegance and refinement. Irish lace, in particular, continues to be held in high esteem for its beauty and craftsmanship. While the reasons for wearing lace may have evolved over time, its enduring popularity is a testament to its enduring appeal.
Staffordshire Sentinel – Saturday 12 May 1900
During Her Majesty’s visit to Ireland, Irish friezes and Limerick lace collars had seen a surge in popularity, with shops offering a variety of sizes and shapes at different price ranges. The Empire style had also made a comeback, with tea-gowns, tea-jackets, and dressing-gowns all part of the trend. This style was considered fortunate for home-workers, as it was easier to produce compared to fitted basque bodices and princess dresses, which presented challenges in creating waist curves.
Dundee Evening Telegraph – Monday 14 May 1900