Corsets and textiles
Hjem-Museum / Clothing and Accessories-Vintage clothing-1870 - 1901 - Late Victorian-xxM470M 1899 Callot Soeurs Evening Cape

xxM470M 1899 Callot Soeurs Evening Cape

xxM470M 1899 Callot Soeurs Evening Cape.
Callot Soeurs was one of the earliest couture fashion houses, founded in 1895 by three sisters: Madame Marie Gerber, Madame Bertrand, and Madame Regine Tennyson-Chantrell. This is an extremely rare find, hailing from the earliest days of the atelier. Callot Soeurs was a distinguished and innovative house, and became even more so when Madame Vionnet joined the team at the turn of the century.

"The Callot House was founded in 1895 at 24 rue Taitbout, while Vionnet was in London...Their designs were among those that Vionnet had copied while employed at Kate Reilly's. She had become a great admirer of their work and decided to seek a position with the house when she returned to Paris.

Previous to their venture into the haute couture, the Callot sisters operated a shop selling laces, ribbon, and lingerie. For this background, they were indebted to their mother, a woman gifted in the crafts of lace-making and embroidery who passed on to her three daughters a proper knowledge of these crafts. For their ability to design, the Callots were indebted to their father, Jean Baptiste Callot. He was from a family of lace-makers and engravers, notably the seventeenth-century artist Jacques Callot, and he too was an artist....

Improvisation was the method Marie Gerber (Callot) used to record her ideas. This was done by draping fabric on a live mannequin. Because the fabrics used were delicate and expensive, Mme. Gerber draped her ideas in muslin. (She was probably the first to do so.) Vionnet would then interpret the design into a corrected pattern. [Vionnet] commented later, 'Great innovator, she (Madame Gerber) was so modest, so demanding for her creations, that she wanted each piece in her collection to be perfection. Thus, as I always wished to do as she did, I abandoned all the models that didn't give me entire satisfaction.'"

-- Madeleine Vionnet by Betty Kirke

The detail work on this is astounding. The ruching, the tiny ruching, just blows my mind. And it's everywhere. Instead of ornamentation being given center stage, it is the versatility of the material that is shown off, the ability of silk to float ethereally, stand tall and firm, and swell luxuriously, in conjunction with the virtuoso of the couturier's skilled hand. This garment skims, flows, and even overflows, and one can clearly see the best results of Madame Gerber (Callot)'s meticulous draping method (described above).

From the quote you might have guessed that this dramatic, upper-luxe cape reminds me of Gillian Anderson in The House of Mirth. I can easily see Ms. Anderson as Lily Bart wrapped in it, on her way to the opera, her Titan tresses upswept into an array of combs and diamond hairpins.

This is a special, spectacular piece of important fashion history. Anything couture from this period is exceedingly rare, and to have a piece that hails from the dawn of one of the most important fashion houses in history, which dominated fashion at the turn of the century, is an opportunity not to be missed.

Condition: Good

Overall condition is good. The silk is in good condition except for a 2" mend at the right breast. There seems to be a bit of ribbon detailing/trim on the right side of the hood (if you're looking at the cape from the back) that is missing.

  • Front View
  • Close Up Front View
  • Side View
  • Close Up Sidet View
  • Back View
  • Close Up back view
  • Label View
  • Back Side View ll
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