Caroline Reboux: Inventor of the Cloche

Before Hollywood, if you wanted to appeal to a wealthy clientele, the aristocracy were your desired choice. One designer who bridged the gap between the old and the modern. One who saw not only the kind of clients/designs change but also took part in shaping our tastes in hats. Caroline Reboux.

Born in Paris in 1837. Little is known about Reboux’s early life except that she was not born into privilege. She claimed that her mother was an impoverished noblewoman and her father a man of letters. Her flagship shop was located No 9 Ave Matignon, Paris in 1865. Even though she opened others as her fame grew, but always kept this location. For fifty years, no one could come close to the achievement of Madame Reboux.

Before Reboux, the choice of hat for most women was the bonnet. That’s right the same kind of hat as seen in millions of Victorian dramas, comedies and I am sure in their porn the bonnet would make the odd cameo. What Reboux did was bring hat wearing out of the stifling past and into a more modern era; with choice and imagination. As the title of this entry suggest, Reboux is credited as being the one who gave the Cloche hat world. While it is not as common place now; in the 1920’s, the Cloche was THE Casual hat for all the flappers. If that was not enough, the veiled hat became vogue thanks to Madame Reboux.

Her glittering list of clients included Marlene Dietrich (from whom she bought her berets), Wallis Simpson (even wearing a pale blue Reboux hat for her wedding to Duke of Windsor). Princess Pauline Von Metternich of Austrian and Empress Eugenie of France and author Elsa Triolet were also noted patrons. Hollywood milliner Lilly Dache studied under Reboux for 5 years. World War II saw the sad demise of Reboux’s boutique.

Reboux died in 1927. While Reboux’s name has been largely forgotten, her effect on this highly glamorous accessory cannot be over stated. Elevating an item that simply sits on your head into an art form.

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One comment

  1. Absolutely stunning! That peacock feather hat is amazing. Sigh~

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