Callot Soeurs was formed by three sisters: Marie Callot Gerber, Marthe Callot Bertrand, and Regina Callot Chantrelle. They formed the house in 1895 after Madame Gerber, the oldest of the sisters, closed her lace shop. The women acquired their affinity for lace, a consistent element in their designs, from their mother, a lace maker. Their appreciation for design was most likely inspired by their father, a design instructor and artist.
As the head designer, Madame Gerber quickly made a name for the house by fashioning shirtwaists and lingerie accented with delicate lace and ribbon. By the time the sisters moved to a larger space on avenue Matignon in 1914, they had expanded their design expertise. In addition to ultrafeminine lingerie and day clothes, they became renowned for period gowns and Asian-inspired clothing.
The period gowns were contemporary versions of eighteenth-century gowns. The garments, which featured tightly corseted, pointed waists with wide hoop skirts, were usually created from pastel-colored tulle. These unusual dresses found devotees during the 1910s and 1920s.
The most influential and popular of their designs were the robes pheniciennes, as their Asian-inspired styles were known. Sometimes Asian elements, such as dragons embroidered onto a 1920s beaded chemise, were part of the decoration. Other times, the Oriental influence was incorporated into the structure of the garment. Madame Gerber introduced the kimono sleeve into Western dress effecting one of the most significant sleeve innovations in twentieth-century fashion design.
The sisters' ability to adapt Asian motifs into Western garments and their fine workmanship set standards for the couturiers who followed them. Ma dame Gerber's son, Pierre Gerber, took over the business in 1928. He tried to uphold his mother's standards and trademark styles, which prevented the house from producing cutting-edge designs during the 1930s. Despite this, the house enjoyed financial success and loyal customers until it was absorbed into Calvet in 1937.
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