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Volume 77/78 (2013)

Crafting Spanish Female Identity: Silk Lace Mantillas at the Crossroads of Tradition and Fashion

August 12, 2014


By 1800, the lace mantilla epitomized a woman’s identity as Spanish via its link to traditional dress worn by the popular urban woman—the maja. Lace mantillas were crafted by women since lace production occurred outside male-dominated guilds. Nationally produced lace fostered a patriotic sentiment, particularly the silk lace known as “Blonde,” which was made almost exclusively for mantillas. As a garment seen in portraits, costume albums and fashion plates, the lace mantilla showcased women’s ingenuity, national production and fashionableness. The mantilla carried with it customary associations, but its updated styling helped to generate an image of modern Spanish femininity.