Callot Soeurs

French Couture house
Marie Callot Gerber, Marthe Callot Bertrand,
Regina Callot Tennyson-Chantrell and Joséphine Callot Crimont
  • 1895 founded at 24rue Taitbout in Paris
  • 1917 branches in London and Bueonos Aires
  • 1919 moved at 9-11 Avenue Matignon.
  • 1928 Pierre Gerber, Marie Callot’s son takes over the business
  • 1937 House closed and became part of House of Calvet (both closed in 1952)
“Is there a vast difference between a Callot dress and one from any other shop?” asked Proust’s fictional alter ego, Marcel. “Why, an enormous difference,” replied his girlfriend, Albertine. “Only, alas! What you get for 300 francs in an ordinary shop will cost you two thousand there. But there can be no comparison; they look the same only to people who know nothing about it.” When you look at Callot designs treasured at museums worldwide or photos from beginning of the century, you realize that Mr. Proust really had an idea of fashion. Named Callot Soeurs, this couture house was founded in 1895 in Paris by four sisters, daughters of antique dealer and lacemaker. Marie Callot Gerber, trained as dressmaker was the brain of the sisterhood that started by selling ribbons and lingerie. Marie, celebrator of female body and femininity, doesn’t have reputation in history of fashion as she deserves. “The dress is everything which should be part of the woman. Not the woman part of the dress”, said Marie Callot. Under her guidance, Callot became respectable name in Paris fashion and today synonym for lavish eveningwear of roaring twenties. Like with the most of their contemporaries, designs were influenced with Orientalism, which encouraged usage of rich and exotic fabrics. Sisters had a special talent and extraordinary techniques for combining sophisticated fabrics like satin, silk, brocade, gold and silver lame with lace or velvet appliqués and beads. Madeleine Vionnet was apprentice at Callot when she returned to Paris from London. “Without the example of the Callot Soeurs, I would have continued to make Fords. It is because of them that I have been able to make Rolls Royces.”, said the great Vionnet for her former employer. House closed its doors in 1937.

Evening dresses, ca 1910; evening coats, ca 1910,1915

Evening dresses; 1920, fall winter 1920-21, 1920

Evening dresses, 1925-26

Evening dresses and wedding ensemble, ca 1930

"If Gerber had shared the ebullient personality, not to mention the gender, of Paul Poiret, perhaps her achievements would have been more widely recognized." (Brenda Polan, The Great Fashion Designers)

O'HARA CALLAN, GEORGINA, The Thames & Hudson dictionary of fashion and fashion designers; POLAN, BRENDA, The Great Fashion Designers; AUBENAS, Sylvie, DEMANGE Xavier, CHARDIN Virginie, Elegance. The Seberger Brothers and the Birth of Fashion Photography; FIT

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