Friday, March 30, 2018

Women's History Month 2018: Louise Chéruit

Louise and her daughter, 1907
Before Coco Chanel or Elsa Schiaparelli, there was Louise Chéruit, often incorrectly referred to as Madeleine Chéruit. Louise was the first women to control a major French fashion house in the early 20th century.

Little is know of Louise's early life. She was born in 1866 and was the daughter of a seamstress. In the 1880s she studied dressmaking at Raudnitz & Cie in Paris. In 1895, Lousie married Prosper Chéruit who supported her endeavors in fashion. By 1900 the labels in Raudnitz's clothing read "Raudnitz & Cie, Huet & Chéruit Srs., 21, Place Vendôme, Paris." By 1905, they read "Huet & Chéruit, Mon. Raudnitz & Cie ('Huet and Chéruit, formerly Mr. Raudnitz and Co.')" By 1906, Louise was fully in charge of the fashion house of over 100 employees.

By 1910, the House of Chéruit became one of the most celebrated brands in Paris. All of Louise's collections were closely followed by the press. Louise created wearable yet beautifully ornamented clothing that helped transition fashion from the world of couture to the forthcoming world of ready-to-wear.

Louise's talent wasn't limited to fashion alone. She launched the careers of many other artists including designers, illustrators and photographers. She also produced a high-end fashion magazine made with beautiful illustrations and fancy papers.

When World War I hit, most fashion houses closed. Louise's, however, remained open. She continued to serve her clientele until she retired in 1923. Her brand continued until 1935. Elsa Schiaparelli took up residence in at the same address and remains there today.

While Lousie isn't one of the biggest names remembered by fashion, she opened the doors for the likes of Coco Chanel. She also helped transition fashion through an age of great change, especially in women's lives and attire.

Learn more:

  • Read about one of Louise's garments that has fallen into disrepair and is currently owned by the Museum of London. 
  • See these pictures and illustrations of her studio and designs. 

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