Lace today has many connotations, none of them -- except in the hands of the late Alexander McQueen -- progressive. They are
- a cottage industry for peasant women and nuns
- tablecloths, doilies, curtains in aspirational peasant homes, the hallmark of industrious and pious women and of rock-ribbed lower-class respectability
- priestly vestments and altar cloths enlaced by seven centuries of skilled and devoted women
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- perhaps for the same reasons priests wear it, lace in the form of Battenberg lace and cotton eyelet is used to embellish the white devotional garments of the Afro Latina practitioners of candomble and santeria
- to disguise sun-damaged decolletage
Sophia Loren of Napoli
- coverage for crepey upper arm flaps
Princess Lilian of Sweden
- mantillas for widows, Catholics, Spanish grandees and flamenco dancers
Sofia of Spain exercises her privilege du blanc in a visit with Pope Benedict....
...which The Parker Bowles does not share.
- bodysuits for Twitter porn stars like Mrs. Ice T
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- special occasion lingerie
- a Celtic obloquy
- that thong playaz keep in the glove compartment.
Its use as a see-through coverup -- whether as Hyacinth Bucket respectable and aspirational front parlor curtains, confected to convey status to passersby while obscuring the view inside and outside, or as the peekaboo bodice of Duchess Catherine's wedding dress -- is what concerns us here.
What's wrong with Duchess Catherine's dress is that the artisanal McQueen Lace Ethos -- a form of using lace as armored power dressing -- was completely sold out by McQueen's heiress, Sarah Burton. Who then tried to reimpose some McQueen artistic integrity on the skirt of Duchess Kate's dress. Resulting in two dresses, basically, the top half a Grace Kelly Catholic bride privilege du blanc knock-off. The bottom half anemically referring to McQueen's ferocious and muscular warrior women, with their sexy crocodile skull epaulettes and jagged tartan dhotis. My favorite feral evening dress of McQueen's is the gold eagle feather one:
Gold is one of the traditional colors for a bride's dress, and the bride as harpie raptor seraph is a breathtaking modern image of female power, perhaps adapted from Art Nouveau.
Lalique dragonfly pin used as logo of the National Gallery of Art Art Nouveau exhibit, in which the image of liberated women crowding Haussman's new boulevards as a crowd of locusts, per Zola's The Ladies' Paradise, was well-researched.
Certainly, McQueen's lace-embroidered satin bug carapace dress deployed lace to refer to this feral tradition.
McQueen used symetrical appliques of handmade lace to armor "nude" but not see through fabric, chunky lace akin to the gold braid which festoons soldiers' and sailors' uniforms:
He used assymetrical appliques of black lace to evoke tattoos:
Please note the presence of actual, not virtual, breasts, a theme of McQueen's soft chiffon tops.
And hard metal and leather tops.
Actual breasts the mark of the Amazon.
Lace as an incrustation of the breastplate/corset:
Lace, as with the braid on an officer's uniform, as the armor itself:
still trying to re-locate this image
There's the famous red executioner's hood, was it? Lace as a disguise. Worn as vintage by Lady Gaga:
Lady Gaga in a vintage 1999 Alexander McQueen red lace dress.
And the deployment of soft nude lace, in the collage applique method Sarah Burton used for both this dress and Duchess Catherine's wedding dress, simply as a bold graphic applique:
Note how much stronger this nude lace dress is than the Burton-designed ruffles above.
And finally, in what may be the prettiest lace dress of all time, lace exploiting its ability to reproduce the organic forms of leaves and dappled sunlight:
The one thing wrong with my theory about McQueen versus Grace Kelly is, of course, that he devoted his winter 2005 show to Hitchcock heroines, and Grace Kelly starred in three Hitchcock films, the apotheosis of Hitchcock's icy blonde.
Fall/Winter, 2005-6. Mostly 40s retro dresses, this Hitchcock collection, "The Man Who Knew Too Much" was derided as McQueen's tamest.
Tomorrow: Grace, The Articulated Breast, St. Catherine of Siena's Head and Lady Gaga