WOMEN CRUSH WEDNESDAY: Madeleine Chéruit
Pioneering woman. French designer. Walking suits. Cinema capes.
Born in France, 1866, Madeleine Chéruit had a very early appreciation and experience in fashion and design. Taking after her seamstress mother, Chéruit began her dressmaking professional training by the late 1880's with Raudnitz & Cie. The Parisian salon primarily drew in the local women looking for simple yet youthful attire that was made with very high-quality fabrics. Along with her sister, Marie Huet, Chéruit rose to top posititions within Raudntz & Cie before eventually taking control of the fashion house.
By 1906, the salon had over 100 employees, was renamed "Chéruit," and expanded their workspace at the hôtel de Fontpertuis on Place Verndome. By 1910, Chéruit had established herself as a prominent and popular couturier of the time and one of the first women to head a major French fashion house.
Taking inspiration from the Jazz Age, Chéruit was able to take the couture high fashion designs and translate them to more accessible ready-to-wear collections. She specialized in flowing, feminine gowns with lovely embellishments and rare embroideries, but was also a very innovative designer. In 1911, Chéruit unveiled her pannier gown (inspired by French court fashions of the early 18th century with a tapered ankle-length hem) and later made walking suits and afternoon gowns Parisian must-haves. Cinema wraps, children's clothing, lingerie, furs, and wedding apparel were just a few other areas of design that the Chéruit fashion house expanded to throughout the years. Keeping with the latest trends in art, the salon even hand-painted Cubist designs on various types of clothing.
Chéruit even paired with Lucien Vogel on a project with other prominent Parisian designers - Jacques Paquin, Redfern, Georges Doeuillet, Paul Poiret, and the House of Worth - to create a fashion magazine in 1912. La Gazette du Bon Ton was printed with the and very expensive Pochoir technique on the finest paper and would feature top Art Deco artists' interpretations of the designers fashions.
During World War I, the Chéruit fashion house remained open and fully operational despite many other houses being shut down or having reduced production. After a scandal involving Chéruit's lover (an Austrian military officer and nobleman who was accused of espionage), she was forced to be taken away from her well-known French celebrity status and forced into seclusion amongst rumors that she was a spy as well. She somehow maintained the artistic direction and influence of her fashion house during that ordeal before the house was acquired by its directors who kept much of its originality.
After the war, fashion had gone in a simpler direction. Chéruit was still fascinated with more ornate designs and went on to created many beautiful pieces typified in the flapper frenzy that defined the Jazz Age, working closely with photographer Edward Steichen and model Marion Morehouse. Chéruit retired in 1923 but continued her designs. She passed away in 1955 and has collections in many major museums around the world.