Saturday, 10 August 2013

Callot Soeurs - Gatsby Inspiration

My newest addiction is Pinterest. Given time for a leisurely breakfast and I will unwittingly lose two hours trawling the net for new pins for my fashion decades pinboards. I justify this by telling myself that it's research for selling vintage fashion items, which it is, but it's still an indulgence.

The highlight of these fishing expeditions has been my discovery of the house of Callot Soeurs, of whom I had never heard until now. This Paris fashion house created the most exquisite gowns throughout the first three decades of the 20th Century, and into the 30s, until going out of business in 1937. Last night I even dreamed of Callot Soeurs.

Callot Soeurs was a French fashion house established by the four Callot sisters, Marie, Marthe, Regina and Josephine, in Paris in 1895. All four were taught by their mother, who was a lacemaker. For the next decade they made glorious Edwardian  fashions, but it is in the 1910s and 1920s that they made the garments that truly amaze me.
Here is an example:


This dress was made in 1908, but looks to me quite different from the prevailing fashions of the era, with their wasp waists. The waist is raised, clearly indicating the direction which fashion would be following in the 1910s. I like to think of the 1910s, at least the early years, as the Titanic era. The front panel and bodice of this gown are elaborately beaded. There is an interesting mixture of textures, with the silk, the net and beading, and the velvet yoke.
In the 1910s, Callot Soeurs made some extraordinary dresses. Here are a few of my favourites:
This embroidered tunic and leggings was made in 1910! It must have been a very daring if not somewhat Bohemian outfit for those days.
This stunning embroidered rose silk dress circa 1909-1910 is in New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art. It has a train and an elaborate gold lace bodice. I can't decide whether I am more impressed by it, or this next one:
Another impressive train, which I would like to see spread out. This art deco gem is from 1919, and also in the Met. The bodice is silver lace, matching the lace on the train, and the skirt is silk velvet embroidered in silver thread.
And I can't leave the 10s without mentioning this amazing silk tie dress,  made in 1918:
And so into the modern era. The 1910s seems to be the time where the old, Victorian/Edwardian world was phased out, and the new 20th century world ushered in. It was probably World War 1 that had such a profound effect on the world.
The 1920s always seem to me the first decade of the modern era. It was certainly a time of excess, as examining these elaborate dresses has made clear to me - beading, lace, embroidery, fur, feathers, metallics, velvet, all these feature prominently in the fashions of the 20s. Here are some Callot Soeurs stars of the 20s:

So Deco! Evening Dress, 1924-25
Embroidery on silk.

I love the colours in this silk dress, and the Art Deco embroidered panel is amazing.

Evening dress, 1926

This glorious silk dress is embroidered with metallic thread.

So Deco, this amazing tiered, beaded evening dress, embroidered with metallic thread.

Gorgeous oriental inspired piece embroidered in metallic thread.

I would like to know whether this sheer embroidered dress was worn over an under dress, or just a slip...surely not just one's knickers and cami!!

This Callot Soeurs wedding gown is from 1926.

 I was surprised to read on Wikipedia that Callot Soeurs was not popular with American buyers, who apparently considered it unfashionable. It seems funny that anything from Paris could ever have been considered unfashionable.

Callot Soeurs continued to produce glorious gowns into the 1930s, but the Depression took its toll, and the fashion house closed its doors in 1937.

Many of these gowns are amongst the collection in New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art, which has 127 Callot Soeurs gowns in its collection. You can browse them at:

 Join Pinterest if you haven't already, and follow me. I have pinboards for 1900s to 1960s, plus boards for my Etsy store. But be warned, it's highly addictive!







No comments:

Post a Comment