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dress, 1-piece

dress, 1-piece

This exotic Eastern-influenced dress was designed by Callot Soeurs, a popular Parisian fashion house.
The dress was worn by Mrs. Florence Sheffield Keep, a prominent Washingtonian whose busy social schedule and contacts within the diplomatic community were often noted in the Washington, DC and New York City newspapers. It is possible that this dress was worn to a diplomatic event in Washington, DC.
Callot Soeurs opened in 1895 at 24, rue Taibout in Paris, France. It was founded and operated by four sisters: Marie Callot Gerber, Marthe Callot Bertrand, Regina Callot Tennyson-Chantrell, and Josephine Callot Crimont with Marie being the head designer. Coming from an artistic family, their mother was a lace maker and their father a painter and teacher of design. Before opening the salon, the sisters first worked with antique laces and ribbons to adorn blouses and lingerie. They later expanded into other clothing to include daywear, tailored suits, and evening dresses being best known for their eighteenth century inspired dishabille and their exotic evening dress influenced by the East. In 1914, the design house moved to grander quarters at 9-11, avenue Matignon, and they became involved in Le syndicat de defense de la grande couture francaise. Through this organization Callot Soeurs along with designers Paul Poiret, Jacques Worth, Jeanne Paquin, Madeleine Cheruit, Paul Rodier, and Bianchini and Ferier, put in place controls to protect their original designs from copy houses that sold them to ready-to-wear manufacturers without their permission. This is the time when the Callot Soeurs began to date their labels.
As evident with the design of this dress of bright orange color, gold lace, and elaborate trim, in the 1920’s, Callot Soeurs used brilliant and rich fauvist colors and Eastern inspired designs with exotic details in their formal evening wear. Along with other designers such as Paul Poiret, they were strongly influenced by the wave of orientalism in fashion and the arts. It was during this period that Callot Soeurs became one of the leading fashion houses in Paris, serving exclusive clientele from Europe and the United States. In 1928, Pierre Gerber, Marie Callot Gerber’s son took over the business and moved it to 41, avenue Montaigne. It remained there until Marie retired in 1937. It was at this time that the House of Callot Soeurs closed and was absorbed into the House of Calvert.
This dress is constructed of bright orange silk chiffon with a lining of off-white satin. Gold metallic lace trim and elaborate decorative motifs of beading and iridescent sequins decorate entire dress. The bodice section forms a deep V at front and back with the under bodice lining covered with net forming an insert at center front. Bands of lace and decorated chiffon form diagonal straps at front with at a criss-cross pattern at back. A large decorative diamond-shape emblem of pearls, green and blue beads, and glass stones at corners and center are attached at lower edge of bodice front insert. Five pearl tassels extend from lower edge of the emblem. Horizontal bands of two-inch wide gold metallic lace centered with a band of beaded orange chiffon are set in at the mid-section of the dress. Long tails of chiffon decorated all over with beading and sequins are shirred at the shoulders forming a flowing sleeve-like appearance. The decorated orange chiffon skirt section has an inverted V insert of two-inch gold metallic lace at front which extends into a horizontal band at back. A scalloped pattern at the lower edge has an insert of gold metallic lace. A label woven into a waistband at inside lining reads: “Hiver 1922-1923, Callot Soeurs, Paris, Nouvelle Marque Deposee”.
Currently not on view
Object Name
dress, 1-piece
Object Type
Main Dress
Entire Body
Date made
used by
Keep, Florence Sheffield Boardman
Callot Soeurs
Callot Soeurs
made in
France: Île-de-France, Paris
probably worn in
United States: District of Columbia
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Credit Line
Gift of Mrs. W. Murray Crane
See more items in
Cultural and Community Life: Costume
Cultures & Communities
Clothing & Accessories
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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