BUSINESS
02/19/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Luxury French Lacemakers In Slump As Weaving Mills Slow

Jan. 19 (Bloomberg) -- Weaving mills are slowing in Caudry, a northern French town whose workers have been spinning fine lace for Chanel, Valentino, Dior and their high-fashion predecessors since 1825.

"I'm worried," said Laurent Sautiere, a 35-year-old worker with lacemaker Solstiss as he knelt before a clattering 10-ton Leavers lace-making machine, cranking a steel wheel to halt the spinning. "There's less and less work."

Caudry is home to 10 lacemakers, including two of the world's biggest weavers for haute couture. Together with nearby Calais, the town has 80 percent of the 100 million-euro ($139 million) global market for luxury lace. The factories' fabric adorned Hillary Clinton's gown at the 1993 presidential inauguration and dresses worn by Nicole Kidman and Madonna.

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