The lace room

Through previously unseen pieces, recently acquired or specially retrieved from storage, you will plunge into the extraordinary history of Brussels lace. A fabric that has since disappeared.


Lace is an openwork fabric made with a needle or bobbins. The motifs are connected to each other by a background of stripes or mesh. Initially, it was made by hand and later it was mechanised. Lace is distinguished by its techniques, materials, motifs, colours, etc. Most of the time, it is the place where they were first produced that identifies them: Brussels, Malines, Valenciennes, Bruges, and so on.


Brussels lace has gained international renown over the centuries. Its finesse, quality and beauty made it the preferred textile of the elites from the 17th century. It found its way to the greatest royal courts of Europe, adorning the apparel of both men and women.


In the 19th century, lace became more democratic and widespread thanks to mechanisation. The price of fabric fell. Lace then conquered women’s fashion. Remarkable pieces were made in unprecedented large sizes, lace became a garment. This mechanisation marked the end of handmade lace. Brussels lace disappears with the First World War.


An overview of the museum’s lace collections


The museum’s lace collections are an integral part of Brussels’ heritage. Several of the exhibits are included in the inventory of the movable heritage of the Brussels-Capital Region. For example, check out this handkerchief decorated in the typical style of the Napoleon III era; its scalloped edges are composed of alternating leaves and flowers


regular Lace room, brussels lace, rare, fashion, museum

Lace room © Emilie Gomez

  To be seen in the Lace Room  

New display: 17.10.2023 > 17.10.2025

The Fashion & Lace Museum turns the spotlight on the outstanding heritage of Brussels lace.

In the interests of proper conservation, the museum renews its lace display every two years. Rotating the pieces on view in this way makes it possible to both conserve the oldest and most fragile items and offer visitors the opportunity to admire examples of superb lacework. The museum also presents its recent lace acquisitions, pieces which have rarely, if ever, been exhibited.



Lace is inextricably linked with fashion. Designers never tire of using it, reinventing it, reinterpreting it. The museum focuses in particular on handmade lace. Today, however, let us consider this bridal gown in machine-made lace. This Ester Manas model in polyester and upcycled elastane comes from the Autumn/Winter 2023 Collection ‘For Better or for Worse’.

For this collection, the creative duo that she forms with her future husband revisits the primary characteristics of the bridal gown: white and lace. The lace pieces, depicting a variety of motifs and in differing shades, are assembled like a patchwork. The cut remains the same, but each creation is unique. The gown on display, which features bare shoulders, midriff cut-outs and a train, is Ester Manas’s wedding dress. The white lace symbolising virginity combined with a more audacious use characterised by an interplay of transparency and cut-outs prompts controversy. Some see it as shocking, others as modern and refreshing.

This bridal gown is exhibited alongside creations by Carine Gilson and Pauline Haumont. A contemporary view of lace on display until 6 October 2024.

regular Ester Manas © Nicolas Kuttler

Ester Manas © Nicolas Kuttler

The lace season

For one season per year, the Fashion & Lace Museum joins forces with the Museum of Art & History to show the public some of the main items in the lace collections of the two institutions.

The lace seasons

Art nouveau

17.10.23 > 25.02.24

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Men and gods

18.10.22 > 08.01.23

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The handkerchief, an indispensable frivolity

28.08.20 > 29.11.20

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The train of Queen Marie-Henriette

09.07.19 > 30.09.19

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Benediction veils in Brussels lace

22.06.18 > 30.09.18

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Contemporary lace

Today, many designers and artists use lace.


For more than 30 years, the House of Carine Gilson has combined the delicacy of lace, the lightness of silk, the finesse of the patterns and the know-how of couture. In her Brussels workshops, the designer has elevated inlaid lace to an art form. She has honoured us by being the patron of the Lace Room. The museum regularly exhibits a piece from her collection.



regular C.Gilson, Ensemble kimono et slip dress, Printemps-été 2022 © Stephane Borremans

C.Gilson, Ensemble kimono et slip dress, Printemps-été 2022 © Stephane Borremans