Lace Museum in Calais

I always wanted to go to Calais and I never expected it to be as beautiful as I imagined, all I knew was it was the place that joins England and Europe together.

My Mother discovered a treasure in Calais that is the Cité internationale de la Dentelle et de la Mode de Calais or known as the Lace Museum in Calais.

Located on the banks of a quay, the lace museum has been refurbished from what it was once as a factory making some of the best lace in France to the fantastic museum that it is today.

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The Lace Museum begins with a wonderful WOW moment, where you are introduced to the world of Lace with a fantastic introduction to the history of Lace. The room is covered in Artwork that is printed in the form of lace, to examples of Lace made in the factory right to the garments were the lace ended up in.  It is a wonderful example of how lace has been used throughout the centuries from Handkerchiefs to Collars to Shawls and all the places in-between. With metres upon metres of lace from the 16th Century right up til the 19th Century, you will get to discover how important lace was to finish the icing on the cake of a Garment. You are able to see why this factory was so important for the rich, the famous and royalty who all craved a bit of Calais Lace.

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Leading from this room you are able to get up and close with the production of lace through a interactive section, describing how lace was made with needles and bobbins from the 16th Century from fine hand work up until now where lace is made with the use of machinery. This section was wonderful to be able to have a go to understand the difficult and delicate work that went into lace production. From skills that where passed from Mother to Daughter and the art of patience as well as having a clear detailed mind to understand the fine threads and to create patterns as you go along.

You begin to learn about the factory itself through out its history, why it was so important to Calais but most importantly in my eyes, you are able to see a catalog of the lace that was produced from delicate traditional lace right through to lace that was the height of fashion in the 1900s.

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As you walk upstairs, you could be lucky enough to see one of the Fabric Machines in play. You will be able to see how the Industrial Revolution changed the production of Fabric using these huge machine to create a mass production which allowed all classes to use Lace in their garments. 

The museum has a great 20th Century display, showcasing all of the changes throughout this fast pasted century. It shows how lace was used in all garments from Underwear to Dresses. How the century changed from using traditional lace production to synthetic lace and the need for lace changing throughout the garments.

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To finish off the tour of the factory it ends with the lace and fabric production in the 21st Century, from Synthetic fabric production to the need for making recycled fabric. Along with new technologies that continually are being upgraded to ensure fabric production keeps progressing to allow for cleaner and environmental ways of production, to the need for fabrics that will be sustainable for the future generations. This will ensure there are great fabrics and lace for future Fashion and Costume Designers.

If you are lucky enough to purchase a second ticket for the temporay exhibition it is worth the visit. During my trip to the Lace Museum in Calais we got to experience the exhibit Haute Dentelle; it included wonderful garments from High End Fashion Designers such as Coco Chanel, Christian Dior and Jean Paul Gaultier. These garments all had incredible ways that they used lace to create unique and wonderful new looks, such as laser cut lace to hand woven lace to lace using a variety of mediums. Each piece was unique truly showcasing what creative minds can create to make wonderful lace that will inspire you to see what you can do yourself.

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This is a fantastic Museum to visit, I would happily go get the Ferry from Dover to Calais to spend the day again there, as well as being able to discover more of the beautiful city of Calais.

Cité internationale de la Dentelle et de la Mode de Calais                                                            135 Quai du Commerce, 62100 Calais, France                                                                              The Museum is open daily except Tuesdays                                                                               High season : 1 April to 31 October, 10.00am - 6.00pm                                                             Low season : 1 November to 31 March, 10.00am - 5.00pm

Ferries from Dover to Calais run 15 times a day, with the trip lasting 1.5 hours. For more information have a look at this Ferry Website for great deals.