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

Tara Zanardi


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.

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