20th Century, Rate the dress

Rate the Dress: Brilliant Blue Callot Soeurs

Last week I though that Fra Galgario’s Count in bizarre waistcoat and banyan was fascinating, but clearly you didn’t agree as only a dozen of you even bothered to rate it, which may be a new low.  Poor Count!  At least the rating he did get from the daring dozen was a rather positive 8 out of 10. He would have rated higher if he’d only worn different stockings and a better hat – sometimes it’s all about the accessories!

This week’s Rate the Dress is all about colour and sparkle.  In brilliant blue, covered in sequins and large paste gems, this Callot Soeurs gown certainly isn’t for the faint hearted.  The vivid colour and exotic embellishments anticipate the Orientalist and Arabian Nights inspired trends that would sweep through the fashion world in the next few years.

Evening Dress, 1909, Callot Soeurs, Paris, Silk mesh embellished with celluloid sequins and paste gems, Gregg Museum of Art & Design, 2003.014.208

Evening Dress, 1909, Callot Soeurs, Paris, Silk mesh embellished with celluloid sequins and paste gems, Gregg Museum of Art & Design, 2003.014.208

Evening Dress, 1909, Callot Soeurs, Paris, Silk mesh embellished with celluloid sequins and paste gems, Gregg Museum of Art & Design, 2003.014.208

Evening Dress, 1909, Callot Soeurs, Paris, Silk mesh embellished with celluloid sequins and paste gems, Gregg Museum of Art & Design, 2003.014.208

Evening Dress, 1909, Callot Soeurs, Paris, Silk mesh embellished with celluloid sequins and paste gems, Gregg Museum of Art & Design, 2003.014.208

Evening Dress, 1909, Callot Soeurs, Paris, Silk mesh embellished with celluloid sequins and paste gems, Gregg Museum of Art & Design, 2003.014.208

And some close-ups of the bodice detailing:

Evening Dress, 1909, Callot Soeurs, Paris, Silk mesh embellished with celluloid sequins and paste gems, Gregg Museum of Art & Design, 2003.014.208

Evening Dress, 1909, Callot Soeurs, Paris, Silk mesh embellished with celluloid sequins and paste gems, Gregg Museum of Art & Design, 2003.014.208

Evening Dress, 1909, Callot Soeurs, Paris, Silk mesh embellished with celluloid sequins and paste gems, Gregg Museum of Art & Design, 2003.014.208

Evening Dress, 1909, Callot Soeurs, Paris, Silk mesh embellished with celluloid sequins and paste gems, Gregg Museum of Art & Design, 2003.014.208

It’s certainly a bold dress!  What do you think? Too bright and sparkly and big?  Or does the subtle mastery of cut and the skill of the workmanship balance the less-than-restrained aesthetic?

 Rate the Dress on a Scale of 1 to 10

57 Comments

  1. I love the shape and the brio of the color and most of the decoration, the exception being whatever it is that is used to make the neckline fill — the draping I find odd and the color off (although that may be due to aging).

    It might be uncomfortable to wear (and most likely to sit in), so a slight deduction for that.

    8.5 of 10

  2. thats how Cleopatra would look like if she lived in these times 😀

    love it, but this is not the pretties c. 1910 dress i saw, nevertheless – 9/10

  3. Jenny Wren says

    I love it to bits, especially the back (wow!) but I’m going to take off a couple of points for looking too top-heavy. Might just be a bad mannequin, but them’s the breaks.

    8/10.

  4. Wow, with a sweeping glance it almost looks 1930s, with the diagonal sequins giving that very slim skirt a bias cut look, and the puffy sleeves.
    I really rather like it. I love blue and gold, it is so sensuous. And very Egyptorial here. In a panto sort of way which is fun.
    8/10. Funny how much I adore the clothes from an era so singularly unsuited to my own shape 😉

    • Elise says

      Me too! I want to look beautiful in Regency clothing, but will have to settle for admiring others looking beautiful in Regency clothing!

      • I think that’s a fairly normal predilection… I have an old soft spot for the sleek 60s styles, but I just aren’t a Twiggy, not even an Audrey Hepburn. 😉

  5. Ashlea says

    I’m going to give it a 10/10.

    Sure, it’s probably not the most comfortable dress to wear, but with an evening gown like this, that’s not the point. The point is to look ravishing and I can picture a statuesque, dark-haired woman turning each and every head in this dress.

    Also, this is my favorite silhouette and my favorite color–so I kind of have to give it a perfect score!

  6. My first thought was Egyptian, too! Especially with the way the train looks like a headdress. 9/10. The creamy lacy part is just not quite the right color/texture?

    • Agreed. It would look better if it was a brighter gold colour instead of that pale yellow. Maybe it faded.

      9/10

  7. It’s a very nice Cleopatra costume, but it is very costume-y. 7/10

  8. Elise says

    Oh I just adore it. So cool. And Blue and Gold as well! The train–oh the train! 10/10

    And I liked last week’s as well, but the baby would only let me read, not respond or rate. He looks so comfortable and warm. I wanted to give it an 8 or 9. So there.

  9. Rose says

    10/10! If only the scale went higher. This would have looked so beautiful in a ballroom under the warm gas-lights, glittering away.

  10. Wow! That’s DRAMATIC. Those massive spangles are quite something. The silhouette is gorgeous – just so long and elegant and tall and the lines are perfect. If Cleopatra had lived in the 1910s she’d have worn this. Beautiful colours, too. However, I’m not completely sold on the bodice – a tiny bit too unsubtle in its embellishment and the blocks of gold lace are indeed just a bit blocky. Is it a stage gown? It looks like it was designed to be seen from a distance rather than up close. I’m going to say 9/10 as it’s definitely not perfect, but it’s so beautiful in so many ways that it’s a winner.

  11. Stunning. Beautiful. Great line, color scheme, and decoration. The only element I don’t like is the big round turquoise-colored gems around the neckline–they look tacky and out of place to me. Still, I’d give it a 9.5 out of 10.

  12. Lynne says

    10 out of 10!

    Goodness me, what a dress! Sure, it is seriously over the top, but it is amazing. Imagine it on a slender red-head, one with drama in her soul. Ellen Terry would be my pick. It is a centre-stage garment.

    Wonderful!

  13. Erin says

    Hmm. Too much even though I love the lines of thr train and skirt embellishment from a distance they are overwhelmed by the crowding on the bodice. 4/10

  14. holly says

    wow, the more I look at it, the more I want to wear it. 10/10

  15. Love the skirt and the over-all lines, but the bodice has just got too much going on for my tastes. Unless for wearing onstage, in which case the cluttering of detail wouldn’t be obvious. 6/10.

  16. I love it! I don’t think I’d wear it though- only because it looks so gosh darn uncomfortable. I’d probably be crying by the end of the night, just because I’d feel so miserable.
    But other than the uncomfortable factor, I really like this dress. A lot.
    Soers dresses are some of the prettiest gowns I’ve ever seen, really.
    9/10

  17. I love the skirt (love, love, love all that beautiful directional work with the sequins), and I like the bodice, and I like the color scheme. But I think my modern sensibilities see the combination of all of them as a little off–I understand, logically, how this would have been the epitome of Orientalist fashion, but my gut does not agree!
    8.5 out of 10, ‘cos I can’t quite make it all work together in my brain.

  18. Carol Butsko says

    That bit of fabric tucked into the back of the dress throws me, presumably it is there for modesty, but it does nothing for the dress. That being said it is quite stunningly beautiful. 8.5 out of 10.

  19. This is one of those dresses that is classic haute couture! The textures and detailing is superb, the square sequins are especially fabulous.

    However, it would probably be cumbersome to wear and the sequins on the sleeves would definitely chafe under the arms by the end of the night.

    It definitely would take a certain body type and personality to pull it off, so I am torn. On the one hand, I would love to own it, but I would probably be too nervous to wear it since I lack the grace (I would doubtless be shedding sequins and tripping over jewels by the end of the night) or panache to wear such a dress without it wearing me!

    Looks: 10 out of 10!
    Wearability: 6 out of 10.
    Overall score: 8 out of 10!

  20. Belinda says

    There’s something really decadent and operatic about that level of decoration, like something one might wear to see Salome performed – or, indeed, to perform Salome in! The large blue paste gems at the waist might be a little to OTT in any other context, but the shape is fabulous and I love the feathery effect of all those sequins on the sleeves.
    9/10

  21. Sue H says

    When I could just see the skirt it was Oh Wow! But then with the top Oh No! The wonderfully elegant complexities of the skirt are totally confused by the lines and fabrics of the top as displayed. 7/10

  22. Grace Darling says

    “Your presence – in Oriental costume – at my Studio Hearth Warming February nineteen is heartily desired…..Louis C. Tiffany”

    Looks like a pool of moonlight – mythical elegance.

    7/10 – a bit overdone with the paste gems for me.

  23. Sue Miller says

    Love the colour, the style and fabric of the dress, not sure about all the decorations – they detract a bit.
    Would love to be able to wear it!
    8/10

  24. This is one I rather like; I love the contrast between the top and bottom of the dress; my only dislike is the large gemstones that seem to be slightly off in colour compared to the rest of the dress, but I’m giving that the benefit of the doubt. It may well have been the right colour originally before being light damaged. I am going to give it 8/10

  25. Dinah says

    I love it. It’s not only because I have a weakness for orientalism , I just love the line of the dress and the contrast between the matte blue of the dress and the brillant sequins. 9/10.

    (Sorry for my poor english, I’m french. And there is a little typo in the title : it’s Callot soeurs, not soers).

    [WORDPRESS HASHCASH] The poster sent us ‘0 which is not a hashcash value.

  26. Dinah says

    I love it. It’s not only because I have a weakness for orientalism , I just love the line of the dress and the contrast between the matte blue of the dress and the brillant sequins. 9/10.

    (Sorry for my poor english, I’m french. And there is a little typo in the title : it’s Callot soeurs, not soers).

  27. Witcharachne says

    I get a very Egyptian vibe from this dress. I think it’s really quite lovely. I love the sweepy, traily skirt, and the sequiney fabric too.
    The bodice is pretty. I don’t mind the gold lace, and I like the style of the lacey belty thing and straps on the back, but the edging on them just looks a bit clumsy to me. I think if the edging to the lace could have been done thinner it would be much better.
    I suspect what other have already said, and wonder if it’s designed for some kind of performance rather than for general fancy-wearing.

    All in all, I like it, but I think it could be done with more finesse.
    8/10

  28. A beautiful dress designed for the stage, perhaps for an actress or signer at the Moulin Rouge. The silhouette is elegant, but all the decorative treatment is very theatrical, ‘ramped up’ to be seen from a distance. If it is actually a stage dress, I give it a 10/10, for I’m sure it served its purpose perfectly.

  29. 8/10 Mostly lost points because I’m miffed that I couldn’t wear it. It needs to be on a tall slim girl.

  30. Brenda says

    I love the cut and silhouette of the dress and I love the blue color, but the combination of the rhinestones, the sequins, and the crazy-looking bodice make the dress a little too busy for my tastes. Speaking of sequins though…it’s fascinating to see sequins on an early 1900’s dress. I didn’t know they were used back then!

    7/10

  31. juliaergane says

    This is yet another elegant gown that I would want to have in my closet.

    10/10

  32. Poor count was so bizarre I had no idea what to say about him.

    This, on the other hand, is quite easy. It looks like a great dress to wear in evening lights and I could especially picture it on stage. Like on a magician’s assistant or something. That said, it also means I think it’s bordering on garish with all that sparkle. But the overall lines and colour combination are quite tasteful, so I think it’s a 7,5/10 from me.

    • Elise says

      The question of lighting is so so so important for this piece, eh?

  33. Susan says

    Gorgeous dress that I’d love to see hanging in my closet (and I’d love to see me able to wear it some festive New Year’s Eve), though I do wonder how the wearer got into it. There have to be hooks and eyes hidden somewhere or another – but where?? The back of the belt looks as if it fastens, and there may be other hooks and eyes hidden along the side of the back bodice, but I see nothing in the skirt which looks as if it contains fasteners, which surely would have been necessary, given that seemingly slim (and very flattering) line.

    Details: I don’t like the yellow-gold silk whatever it is at the top back of the bodice, though it works when laid narrowly around the neckline in front. The simplicity (that first came out “slimplicity”, which I rather like) of the line helps balance the elaborate trim on the bodice, and the bodice’s line is very typical of this period. As for those flashy blue “jewels”, I think it’s the reflection and refraction of light which makes them photograph lighter than the dress itself – in reality, I expect they’d match very well.

    So – 9.5 from me. If that yellow panel were not at the back of the bodice, it would be a full 10!

  34. Rachel says

    Pro: I dig the dress’ stately cut, especially the high T-shaped sash that (like others have said) gives it an Egyptian feel. The skirt is lovely as far as shape, color, and decoration. I wonder how well it moves though when you wear it – if there’s any awkwardness, all that sparkle would highlight it. That said, love the sequins and the combination of blue and gold.

    Con: As precise as the skirt looks, the bodice is jarring. My focus keeps bouncing around to all these different details that don’t seem entirely at home together. I like how the paste gems look from a distance, running down the center of the skirt, but up close they’re too much. Also, even though the train is one of my favorite elements, the lines of sequins get a little goofy on the back of the skirt, like they’re unsure how to fill the very bottom of the skirt (though maybe that’s just an illusion from the angle).

    Still, can’t ignore how much I love that skirt. 7/10

  35. Nina. Virgo says

    I would wear this in a heartbeat, the colour and style are very appealing. And I agree it does have an Egyptian feel to it. 10 for me.

  36. 10/10! I love every single thing about it! I don’t think it would be the least uncomfortable to wear as an evening dress, and I adore all the strange bodice work.

  37. Tracy Ragland says

    Absolutely beautiful! The skirt has the most beautiful drape! The only thing keeping this from a 10 is the yellow neckline “filler”. 9.5

  38. PatW says

    Love the lines, love the color, love the glitz. The fill at the top of the back looks like an afterthought. I did not like the gold bodice at first, but I have a feeling that it would look better in person. I’ll give it a 9.5

  39. Too much! I like the color, but that’s about it. 3/10, and only because I appreciate that someone had to spend time making it.

    Best,
    Quinn

  40. I love the colour, the style… I just hate the actual embellishment design – it’s not to my taste – I really hate the paste. 7/10

    -Rebecca
    Idealism never goes out of fashion
    http://mn2nz.wordpress.com

  41. Kathy says

    I hate the bodice and am less than impressed with the spangles, I can see them falling off every time she sits or stands.

    A 2

  42. Lylassandra says

    It’s funny how often you choose the only Edwardian dresses I actually like! =) This is one of my especial favorites, for the color and the Orientalism. 10/10

  43. Wow. One of my absolute favorite eras, and Orientalist too — one of my favorite “sub-categories” of one of the Best Fashion Eras Ever!

    But it seems like a dress I’d be unsure of if I saw it on the rack (ok, it was probably made to order so it wouldn’t be on a rack, but IF) and then might love it if I tried it on. Well, not ME per se. I’d be a sausage in it for the two seconds it took before I popped all the seams. But Theoretical Svelte Me.

    CONS: The gold bodice is potentially clunky; the stones are too big and numerous, which adds to the clunkiness and haute overdone-ness; and while I’m keen on glitter, making all the bands glittery seems a bit too much of the same thing.

    PROS: Fantastic cut; to-die-for pseudo-Egyptian beading on the yoke (sorry I might have the term wrong, anyone can correct me please!); you can’t miss with the high anarkali-style waist; love the straps on the back (a lot of neat stuff was done with strap effects and ribboning at that time); gorgeous blue color; the geometric lines in the skirt are wonderfully slimming and would fool everyone into thinking the wearer is a Size 2 whereas it’s really a Size 14! See, you were fooled, right? 🙂

    Over all, there are elements that I’m not sure of, but it’s a great Edwardian Orientalist dress with the beading, details and cut that was all so great in that era.

    9/10

  44. Lene says

    Like it a lot! The distance shots especially, where you get the lines and the ideas. I like the bright colours and the bling.

    But the close ups – not so much.

    In danish we have a word: Distanceblænder meaning somebody who looks amazing from a distance, but as soon as you get to know them, talk to them, they are totally horrid personality wise. Can also be used about items, that look good/impressive, but turn out to be shoddily made or totally impractical, and therefore can’t fulfill their functions.

    That’s how I feel about this dress… The closeups show the sequins poking in all directions, the top looks just wrong and the colours don’t mix as well.

    6/10

    • Elise says

      I love–love love that word! Germanic languages have incredible words to describe ideas that everyone can relate to.

  45. LIndaMB says

    I love everything about this pseudo-Egyptian dress. 10/10

  46. L. A. Khatt says

    Love, love, love this dress. Everything, from the yummy shade of blue to the silhouettte and trims…just gorgeous! I would love to have a copy of this one!
    10 /10 for this one!

  47. Mostly, I like it a lot. I love the way the sequins have been placed on the skirt, and the colours, and the vaguely Egyptian influence. What I don’t really like is that gold lace on the bodice. I like the colour, but not the design. It reminds me too much of those tacky abstract furniture designs you used to see in the 90s, and I’m afraid I’ll have to deduct a point for that. 9/10

  48. Mona says

    I’m too late to impact the rating (10/10 from me), but just wanted to say thank you for making me aware this dress exists. It reminds me not as much of Egyptian design as Babylonian, especially the beautiful tiles of the Ishtar Gate.

  49. Mary says

    10/10 After reading about Callot Soeurs in the New Yorker, I have been looking and looking at the dresses online. This one is hands down my favorite. Wow.

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