Hauts-de-France region is famous worldwide for its lace, especially in the cities of Calais and Caudry. The story of the lace of Calais dates back to the times of the industrial revolution, and is connected to the first mechanical weaving looms powered by steam engines. The lace was initially a luxury product for the rich. However, thanks to the technical and the industrial progresses, the production and commercialisation of lace increased considerably, which made the lace of Calais become more and more popular. The fact that it started to be sold in several cities across the Pacific, including New York, Boston, Chicago, helped increase the visibility of the city and of the whole region.
The lace is renowned worldwide for its finesse, the richness of its funds, and the variety of motifs, as the one produced on Leavers looms is an exceptional product. The French Leavers looms turned the cities of Calais and Caudry into the lace signposts known worldwide, and led to the creation of the “Laces of Calais” cultural brand. The companies that continue the lace craft tradition adapted to the lifestyle and demands of the contemporary customers. Drawing inspiration from the cultural heritage of the region, but constantly improving the production techniques and the designs, nowadays sketchers and designers propose new stylistic approaches, and explore different innovative ways to use and treat this crafted fabric.
The International City of Lace, and the Lace museum, located in Calais, are the places where all the information connected to lace can be found. Designed by the architects Moatti and River, the museum opened in 2009, and it has since been the showcase for the regional tradition of crafting lace. Moreover, the city boasts a permanent exhibition created around this fabric, which is a must-see attraction for the numerous tourists passing through Calais.
An example that reflects the good reputation of this product and the developed industry that supports its production is that connected to Catherine Middleton’s choice of having part of her wedding dress made out of the lace of Caudry. This news travelled around the world and confirms the importance of the place of Caudry and Calais as they are considered the main production centres using the mechanical Leavers lace, and the pride of the Hauts-de-France region.