When I first started this blog, I was an unemployed costumer attempting to create period gowns and costumes with very limited means. Although now employed, I still try to be as thrifty as possible. I am still "The Broke Costumer"!

In addition to posts about the outfits I make on a budget, this blog includes short research articles on fashion, history, accessories, styles, or whatever interests me at the moment.

I hope you enjoy my journey into the land of inexpensive costuming and short articles.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Houses of Callot Soeurs and Boué Soeurs

These two fashion houses, both established by sisters, made beautiful, delicate, airy and feminine gowns in the early 20th century.

Callot Soeurs (Callot sisters) was a prominent French fashion design house which opened in 1895 in Paris.  The fashion house was operated by the four Callot sisters: Regina, Marie, Marthe and Joséphine.  The eldest sister, Marie, was trained in dressmaking and they were all taught by their mother, a lacemaker. The sisters began by working with antique laces and ribbons to enhance blouses and lingerie.  They were among the first designers to use gold and silver lamé to make dresses.

Three of the Callott sisters.

Right, 1907
Left:   Callot Soeurs, ca. 1926. Silk, silk and metallic lace, and imitation pearls and opals. Indianapolis Museum of Art.

Right:   Two evening gowns circa 1912.

Left, Callot Soeurs Negligée - detail - 1898-1902 - by Callot Soeurs (French, active 1895-1937) From the Met Museum

They designed day wear, lingerie, exotic gowns with an Oriental theme, and evening dresses made from antique fabrics and lace. Their gossamer silk lingerie creations were embellished with bands of exquisite lace and bouquets of silk flowers. Callot Soeurs were among the first designers to use silver and gold lame during the 1910s and 1920s for evening wear, thus their vintage designs were popular with actresses and high society patrons Source

The piecing to refashion antique laces into a garment requires the skill and sensitivity of "couture hands," such as those that sewed the renowned lace-embellished Belle Epoque dresses from Callot Soeurs. 
 -quoted from The Met website, where most of these images were sourced.

Marie served as the primary designer for the house until 1927 when her son took over the business. However, he could not survive in the highly competitive market and, in 1937, the House of Callot Soeurs closed and was absorbed into the House of Calvet (Marie-Louise Calvet) under the Callot label. 

EDIT:  Adding this beautiful Link  about these gowns found in pristine condition!

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The house of Boué Soeurs was established by sisters Madame Sylvie Montegut and Baronne Jeanne d'Etreillis, who worked together under their maiden name Boué.   Their establishment opened in Paris in 1899, with a New York house opening in 1915.

Their designs were extremely feminine, incorporating fine hand-made lace and delicate embellishments such as embroidery and the ribbon flowers seen on the FIDM Museum example (See link for photos). Filet Boué, a floral patterned lace worked on a mesh ground developed by the Boué Soeurs own lacemakers, became a signature of the house. The sisters were also noted for use of gold and silver textiles, which they had to purchase from theatrical supply companies.   FIDM link

Here are some beautiful examples of delicate ribbon rose trim.



 Sylvie and Jeanne Boué took an interest in design at a very early age. In a 1922 article in Arts & Decoration magazine, Jeanne wrote:

"From our earliest childhood Madame Montegut and myself have craved the beautiful: our desire first took shape in the collecting of dainty ribbons, soft silks, all luxurious materials, flowers, laces – everything that expressed beauty in form and color. We began by dressing our dolls in the prevailing mode and later found an outlet for our love of the beautiful in creating our own attire."

Signature elements included fine Alencon and Duchesse lace, embroidery, ribbonwork, and gold and silver textilesWhile some of their evening dresses retailed for $145-150 in the 1920s,  designs with more exotic materials could cost as much as $2,000. Among the house's more elegant offerings was the robe de style, a design popularised by Jeanne Lanvin, which they continued to produce into the 1940s.    Wikipedia

Left:  Les Modes (Paris) January 1926 Robe de Style par Boue Soeurs

Right:  Beautiful Robe de Style

Left:   Paris Fashion - 1926 - Dress 'Aurore' by Boue Soeurs

Bottom Left:  Les Modes (Paris) May 1928 "bouquetiere" robe du soir par Boue Soeurs

 Bottom Center:  Embroidered lace dress by Boue Soeurs, French, winter 1925-26.
Bottom Right: Les Modes (Paris) November 1927 "Serenade" Robe du Soir par Boue Soeurs

Left, Portrait of Baronne Jeanne d'Etreillis and her
children, published in Les Modes in 1913


  1. Interesting that in the one cream colored robe de style, you can actually see the side hoops that were used for that shape.

  2. Hi.Very interesting.Do you know anything about the Boue Seours history from the 30s onwards as there is not much on them?