LaceWedding Dress TerminologyWedding Dresses 101

Wedding Dress 101: Alençon Lace

Alençon is a gorgeous type of lace that was first produced exclusively in Northern France. This special lace was painstakingly made only by hand. Since it was time-consuming and expensive to make, Alençon was considered a luxury. And it was highly coveted by members of the royalty and the upper classes. Marie-Antoinette, Queen of France, wore Alençon for this oil painting at the Palace of Versailles:

Eventually, textile manufacturers figured out a way to produce the look of this exquisite lace by using machines. And it’s been a favored choice of brides from then on.

These days Alençon style lace is still made on machines. Therefore it’s affordable and accessible. So if you are a bride searching for a lace wedding dress, we highly recommend finding yourself one created with this stunning textile. And, it really does sound fancy when you say it out loud:

The Queen of Lace

We love that Alençon is sometimes called the “Queen of lace.” And, it is also called “Corded Lace.” Whatever the name, this elegant lace is a beautiful component for wedding dresses. Check out this loveliness:

It’s All In The Details

Alençon lace is created by outlining the details in the underlying lace pattern. The heavier thread (or cord) used gives the elements a raised edge which accentuates the pretty details. Alençon is easily recognized because of its three-dimensional look.

But wait, it has eyelashes?

Sometimes the edges of this lace have will have a bit of dainty fringe. It is adorably referred to as “eyelash fringe.” Doesn’t it look like fluttery eyelashes?

The Most Popular Bridal Lace

Most bridal gowns utilize the more accessible machine-made Alençon as opposed to the handmade kind. If fact, this is the most popular of all lace used in wedding dress construction. Brides just love the delicate beauty and romance of the re-embroidered lace:


Authentic Alençon lace, which dates all the way back to 1665, was painstakingly made by hand with a needle and thread. Luxurious beyond belief, it is the most elaborate needle-point lace ever produced in France.

Authentic Alençon

You can still find authentic hand made Alençon lace in France today. It is absolutely exquisite but you might need to be royalty to afford “the queen of laces.” It’s ultra-expensive because it is so labor-intensive to make. For example, a single square centimeter can take up to seven hours to complete by hand. Specially trained workers who have undergone an apprenticeship of several years are the only ones who can produce true authentic Alençon.

Ask for Alençon

Luckily brides can still get the look and feel of this French treasure by finding a dress made with machine corded lace. So the next time you are shopping for a bridal gown ask to see one with “Al-On-Sawn” lace.

Be an informed wedding dress and accessories shopper. Check out more of our Wedding Dresses 101 series by clicking the links below:


Wedding Dresses 101: A Guide to Choosing The Best Bridal Silhouette