Every summer Vologda hosts the International Lace Festival. Russian and especially Vologda lace has always been in fashion. It is not only about collars and cuffs: fashionists suggest being dressed in lace articles from head to foot. The summer festival is about this traditional craft of Vologda that makes every woman younger and more beautiful.
Skilled workers in the Russian North embroidered in gold and silver threads in the 17th century, and the world-famous domestic brand "Vologda Lace" was highly appreciated at the international exhibitions in Philadelphia in 1876 and in Chicago in 1893. It was awarded gold medals at the exhibitions in Paris in 1925 and in Brussels in 1958, and received the Grand Prix at the Paris International Exhibition in 1937.
The skills and imagination of the Vologda lace-makers are amazing. Lace articles are made manually using wooden bobbins ("koklyushka") onto which the threads are reeled and pins.
Drawings of future articles created individually by the artists are fixed on special pillow-rollers. Following the pattern, lace-makers create wonderful works. Their designs range from geometrical figures, flowers, fish, birds, deer, lions, to fantastic symbols such as unicorns or natural phenomena, like the polar lights.
The bobbin lace exists during almost three centuries and represents a significant peculiar phenomenon of the decorative applied arts. Russian lace-making borrowed in the 17th century from Western Europe preserved and developed the best traditions of needlewomen of the European countries. During its astounding growth, lace-making became a real national art phenomenon.
At the turn of the 19th-20th centuries, people made lace in 17 Russian provinces. Vologda was and is still one of the leading and famous centers of lace-making in Russia and is rightly considered to be the lace capital of Russia. In contrast to local centers of lace-making, Vologda lace is an integrated phenomenon including the manufacturing traditions of different areas of the Vologda region.
Already in 1876, Vologda lace received a high assessment at the international exhibition in Philadelphia. It was demonstrated with great success in Chicago in 1893. At the exhibitions in Paris in 1925 and in Brussels in 1958, Vologda lace was awarded the gold medals. The highest award – the Grand Prix “For Innovation and Artistic Embodiment of Lace Articles” - was given to the lace-makers of Vologda at the exhibition in Paris in 1937.
Lace-making plays a special role in the economy and culture of the Vologda region even today. This trade unites industrial production and creation of exclusive highly artistic articles preserving the traditions of this handicraft. Vologda lace is made manually using ecologically pure flax in accordance with the historically established techniques and art traditions.
The Vologda State Museum-Reserve for History, Architecture and Art has a big interesting collection of lace containing more than 3 thousand articles and reflecting the history of this trade, the peculiarity of the ornamental culture, uniqueness and picturesqueness of the art language. In 2010, a specialized lace museum was opened in Vologda. It presents the evolution and preservation of the traditional handicraft and the leading world tendencies of the lace-making development at the late 19th – early 20th centuries. This approach gave a chance to establish the museum corresponding to the European standards. The new museum has become an attractive center for tourists and a landmark of the region revealing the lace in all its diversity.