Scotland, Balmoral Castle, second half of the nineteenth century
The second half of the nineteenth century is usually known in England as the Victorian Age or, in France, the Restoration. The international scene is dominated by the figures of Queen Victoria, with her 64 years of reign and the very elegant Empress Eugenie of Montijo, wife of Napoleon III.

Since the first official visit of the French imperial couple in England (in April, 1855) a strong friendship flourished between Eugenie and Victoria, a friendship that grew stronger after the death of Albert in 1861; afterwards, Victoria wore mourning clothes for the following forty years of her life.

Eugenie was a guest of Victoria several times, at Osborne, Windsor and Abergeldie; it was in the much loved Scotland that Eugenie sought refuge after the death of her sister Paca, in 1860. Both shared the same passion for travelling and the same romantic inclination brought them to choose a pseudonym when they travelled incognito: Countess of Balmoral and Countess of Pierrefonds.

In this period, CHANTILLY, DUCHESSE, HONITON, are the most important types of bobbin lace that share their success with the famous needle-made POINT DE GAZE.

Circa 1876, after the end of Eugenie’s mourning period for the death of Napoleon III. (eliminato: an) Interior of Balmoral Castle, Scotland, where Empress Eugenie is received in the privacy of Victoria’ s own room. It is a very intimate gesture with which queen Victoria welcomes the friend in her private apartment, holding her hands. Not far away is the personal maid of the queen that has arranged her nightgown on the bed.
  • On February 10th, 1840 Victoria married Albert of Saxe-Coburg. It was a sumptuous and romantic wedding ceremony, with a cake weighing 150 kilos, decorated with cupids and satin hearts. Among the guests, in the middle of all the European crowned heads, there was also Jane Bidney, the master lacemaker of a small village in Devon, who, presiding over a hundred lace makers that worked for eight straight months, created the queen’s wedding veil, made in precious Honiton lace. The veil was rather short, almost a stole, and its pattern was later destroyed, in order to avoid the risk that someone could copy it. The queen died on January 22, 1901 and was buried with her veil according to her wish.. (L.Baldrige, Spose Celebri, Milan, 2000, pp.12-14).
  • At Beer, a small fishing village on the coast of Devon, between Seaton and Exmouth, the industry of lace came unexpectedly back in fashion: in fact queen Victoria’s wedding dress, worth 1,000 pounds, was made here. The unexpected, but certainly appreciated, interest of the queen in Honiton lace, and the following visits of the court to Sidmouth, were crucial for the renewed popularity of this type of lace which continued to be appreciated during Victoria’s long reign. (M. Eirwen Jones, The Romance of Lace, London, 1951, p.153).
  • Princess Paulina Metternich, in a letter following her meeting with Empress Eugenie wrote: "The charm that the Empress exercised on all those who approached her, fascinated me forever; her grace, her kindness, her amazing beauty. I admired that beautiful sovereign , and she amazed me for her extreme simplicity and the quality of her elegance – thanks to her look and taste she had become the undisputed queen of fashion". (H. Kurtz, L'Imperatrice Eugenia, Varese, 1972, p.187).
  • The English Charles Frédérick Worth was the first real fashion designer, the couturier of the courts and of the rich upper class; Empress Eugenie entrusted him with the realization of her wedding trousseau and later she chose him as the exclusive supplier of the reigning house. The first novelty was the introduction of the crinoline, an accessory that was extremely suitable to Eugenie’s style to the point that during her reign it was exhibited with pride and effectiveness. Worth wanted the rich ladies to go to his atelier and not vice versa, with the only exception of the Empress and her court. (J.Laver, Moda e costume, Breve storia dall'antichità a oggi, Milan, 2003, p.200).
  • After queen Victoria, other members of the royal family supported the use of Devon lace in fact, also the wedding dresses of princess Alice and queen Alexandra were realized using this lace. Undocumented sources affirm that the art of bobbin lace had first been introduced into England by Dutch refugees in 1568. (N. Hudson Moore, The Lace Book, London, 1937, pp.184-185).
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