History of Lace Parasols
What is a Parasol?
A parasol is a light, usually small, umbrella that is used as protection from the scorching heat of the sun. The name, parasol, which we know today, comes from its old Italian French name, parasole, which is derived from the Italian word parare, which means prepare or ward off, and the Latin word, sol, which means sun or sunlight.
What is the Origin of Lace Parasols?
The history of lace parasols can be traced back to the 16th century following the arrival of the Chinese silk parasols in Europe in the early 16th century via the Silk Road, probably by means of trading, and the rapid development of lace thereon in the mid-16th century as an openwork fabric sewn from a single thread and needle (needle lace) or with multiple threads (bobbin lace).
Lace parasols have had a long and rich history in Europe, especially during the 1600s and early 1900s. Apparently, it is from these eras, which saw the height of the opulence and elegance in Europe's society, that lace parasols today are associated with items of luxury, feminine class, and elegance.
Like the Chinese parasols, lace parasols were used as sunshade and for a very long time, were akin to the finest jewelry in that they were very expensive and, thus, owned by the ladies among the rich, the royals, and the nobles, who would use them for protecting their fair skin from the heat of the sun.
Nevertheless their expensive price, women owned lace parasols in different colors to match every outfit – a long dress gown or dress with fitted top and full, heavy skirt, which was the central clothing for women at the time. When riding in a carriage, ladies would make sure that their driver pulls down the carriage's convertible top so her lace parasol is beautifully exposed.
Lace Parasol Designs Over the Years
In the 1600s, especially in France and England, lace parasols were made of the finest French laces and silk and have hand-carved handles that are made of wood or ivory.
Between 1700 and 1800, long-handled lace parasols, probably in gold and silver which were the popular lace colors at such time – became the object of beauty among their kind.
Between 1800 and 1900, small lace parasols, alongside fringed umbrellas, long-handled or walking-stick lace and silk parasols, and gold-tipped lace umbrellas rose to fame with smaller hats to match and before tanned skin replaced pale skin as the status symbol in the 1920s.
Lace parasols were also regarded as precious gifts for a lover's sweetheart and courtship gifts. As the latter, they were not considered appropriate gifts from a young man to a lady unless the young man is serious about expressing his intentions for the girl, and such lace parasol gift is not accepted unless the lady accepts the young man.
In the early 1990s, the availability of more affordable lace varieties ultimately paved the way for the resurgence of lace parasols as staple fashion accessories for women. With style influences that meld the beauty of both the East and the West and of the old and new – like the captivating splendor of Battenberg lace parasols to the classic Queen Anne-style lace parasols and the sweet simplicity of Chantilly lace parasols, and more – lace parasols have landed in a lot of women's wardrobe as fashion accessories, elegant details to important occasions, and gifts that reflect their love for all things practical, functional, and exuding a timeless elegance.