|The Victoria & Albert Museum|
A popular adornment to a Nineteenth Century lady’s outfit was the addition of a lace collar or bodice front. This fashion was particularly stylish in the 1860s and early 1870s. Here, we see an example of the type of bodice front which would have been worn by a fashionable lady. Such a piece could have been worn with a variety of bodices. It would have been intended to be worn over a contrasting colored silk, setting its pattern into clear relief.
This example features a bib-shaped front worked with fine cotton thread and bobbin lace worked in a pattern of ferns and blossoms in cloth stitch with openwork decoration. A narrow border of Bucks point lace has been attached to the outer edge.
The detail and delicacy of the bobbin lace indicates that it was made in Bedfordshire, England which was a lace-making center. In fact, this type of work is often referred to as “Bedfordshire Style.” The curators at the V&A believe this piece was designed by Bedfordshire’s Thomas Lester who was known for such intricate patterns which often depicted ferns and other naturalistic themes. The botanical theme suggests that the bodice front was made between 1865 and 1875.