Dinner dress Attributed to Callot Soeurs (French, active 1895–1937), Designer: Attributed to Madame Marie Gerber (French), ca. 1908, French, silk, bead, linen & metal.
First established in the 1890s by the four Callot sisters as a lingerie and lace business, Callot Soeurs evolved into a premier dressmaking house in the early years of the 20th century. The garments from Callot Soeurs in the Brooklyn Museum collections incorporate the signature elements of the house: antique lace trimming, Orientalist textiles, lavish embroidery that includes bead- or ribbonwork, or a combination of these elements. The materials used in this gown from 1906-1910 enliven a conventional silhouette. The overall design and varying scale of the embroidery parallels the shape of the dress, and the use of lace, in particular the charming animal and bird motif lace of the sleeves, sets this dress apart from others of the same period in the Brooklyn collection. While the dress lacks a label, these details and the overall quality of the design suggest a Callot Soeurs attribution. | ↳ THE MET
Black and purple silk charmeuse pieced together, chinoiserie floral embroidery; ribbons from shoulder stitched at back waist; tassels at ends.
This dress was an interpretation of a Japanese kimono style by a Western designer. The influence of the Japanese kimono may be observed around the collar, the front neck opening in uchiawase style, and the straight-cut “kimono sleeves.” The round cut from front slit to train evokes the beauty of a trailing kimono. The design of the embroidery and the style of the back of the dress demonstrate a Chinese influence as well.
Image and text taken from the book: Fashion: A History from the 18th to the 20th Century, Kyoto Costume Institute, pg 356
The modified T-shaped construction, side slits, heavy fringes and a contoured frontal closure extending passed the fall line of the fabric was inspired by ethnic costume. The lace technique and its surface pattern were of european origin. The lack of shoulder seams is an unusual element in this coat’s construction. That, along with the custom designed edges at the neckline, frontal aperture and hem and the skillful use of lace may indicate that the couture house responsible for this design was Callot Soeurs.
Opera cloak of fine black silk chiffon brocaded with metallic gold thread in a motif of Kashmiri (Indian) paisley (boetie). The cloak has kosode inspired sleeves, a cross-over closure gradually widening towards the thigh level hemline and a long trained skirt in the back. The construction seams which join the front and back are below the shoulders in the front and are concealed by the design of the fabric. The side seams are machine faggotted. This garment is a magnificent example of the exoticism fashionable amongst the `avant garde’ at this time. The widening of the skirt towards the hemline so that the front overlaps is a style inspired by Mogul costume. The paisley pattern is also Indian. The wide sleeve is inspired by the Japanese kososde.
Many garments from Callot Soeurs in the Brooklyn Museum collection incorporate a signature element of the house, Asian-inspired textiles and trimmings sometimes in the form of lavish beadwork as in this example. In this gown from 1913, the decorative scheme is as deliberate as that of a scenic kimono, in which no part of the pattern repeats itself. Radiating bars resemble fans unfolding, while the different textures of textiles and beads are layered with all the care evident in a fine piece of lacquerware. Both the motifs and the color palette of black and ivory relate to prized Japanese fan boxes decorated with that traditional decorative technique.
Textiles, motifs and designs of Callot garments draw on multi-cultural sources, always in a subtle and refined manner. In this example, the cut of the coat resembles that of a Japanese kimono while the embroidery forms fretwork and abstracted phoenix motifs seen in Chinese damasks.