Fashion Hall of Obscurity – Mme Merlot Larchevêque

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The label that appears in the evening gown below

In histories about the founding of Parisian Haute Couture, Charles Worth’s name always comes up, but he didn’t invent the industry single-handed. One of the other prolific houses of couture at the time was founded by Mme Merlot Larchevêque in 1855, three years before Worth’s name ever appeared on any Parisian dressmaker’s establishment.

Evening gown I borrowed from the Alan Suddon collection in 1995 for The Gentle Step: The Ladies Realm of Fashion 1800-1900.

Green gauze and ivory satin evening gown by Mme Merlot Larcheveque that I borrowed from the Alan Suddon collection in 1995 for an exhibition at the Bata Shoe Museum entitled “The Gentle Step: The Ladies Realm of Fashion 1800-1900.”

Soon after the end of the American Civil War, steamship travel across the Atlantic increased as more Americans, made wealthy from recent industrial growth, toured European points of historical and fashionable interest. Parisian couturiers, like Mme Larchevêque, recognized the profits to be made from this nouveau client and catered to their needs. In 1867 she advertised in the American fashion journal Godey’s Lady’s Book that English was spoken in her shop on the Boulevard des Capucines (conveniently located across the street from the Grand Hotel.) Godey’s described the atelier in their February 1867 issue: “We enter the inner sanctum of Mme. Merlot Larchevêque, and see tissues of the most exquisite hues, of the richest textures, and in an unprecedented variety, thrown round in the greatest profusion.” Her address was identified alternatively on various labels as 21, 23, or 25 Boulevard des Capucines. No references could be found for the firm after the mid 1880s.

2 thoughts on “Fashion Hall of Obscurity – Mme Merlot Larchevêque

  1. How wonderful to find your blog. I was just looking at a drawing of Boulevard des Capucines from the nineteenth century and one of the shops shown is Merlot-Larcheveque. As I am writing a novel set in 1870s Paris, I wanted to ascertain the authenticity of this fashion designer and happily your blog has the necessary information. No doubt my characters will be making a visit to that location in one of the scenes. Many thanks.

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