“No one was more skilled at combing history and the far corners of the world for inspiration and translating these foreign motifs into contemporary Parisian terms.”
Paul Poiret is often credited with bringing elements of Far East design into French high fashion in the early twentieth century. Yet there were several forward-thinking houses that excelled at combining international inspiration with exquisitely-made couture garments. Callot Soeurs, a business run by the talented Callot sisters, was known for tunics, lingerie, nightgowns, and evening wear that incorporated touches of the exotic in the most elegant fashion. Whereas Poiret’s designs at times veered toward the outlandish, “it is hard to describe Callot Soeurs as either conservative or radical, so thoroughly combined and compatible are the traits of each pole.” The house was adept at creating clothes that were both cutting-edge and wearable.
Evening Dress, Callot Soeurs
Paris, France, c. 1925
Silk crepe, silk satin, silk net, silk & metallic embroidery
Gift of FIDM/Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising
Marie, Marthe, Régina, and Josephine Callot grew up surrounded by artistic inspiration; their mother was a lace maker, and their father was a painter and design instructor. After running a small lace, ribbon, and lingerie shop in Paris, they opened their first boutique in 1895, where eldest sister Marie Callot Gerber was head designer. Sadly, youngest sister Josephine committed suicide in 1897, leaving her three sisters to run the house.