Caroline Reboux

Caroline Reboux

Famous Parisian milliner and fashion designer, nicknamed the Queen of Milliners.
Country: France

  1. Caroline Reboux: The Queen of Milliners
  2. Early Life and Career
  3. The Queen of Hat Fashion
  4. A Lasting Legacy

Caroline Reboux: The Queen of Milliners

Caroline Reboux was a renowned Parisian milliner and fashion designer, known as the Queen of Milliners. She elevated the art of hat-making, turning hats into a high fashion accessory during the mid-19th century in France. Reboux's hats became a crucial and essential part of women's fashion, without which they would not dare to step out of their homes for another century.

Caroline Reboux

Early Life and Career

Caroline Reboux was born in 1837. She was an attractive blonde woman who maintained her youthful looks for a long time. Like many of her clients, she crafted her own fictional biography. According to her, she was the fourth child of a destitute aristocrat and a writer who became an orphan and moved to Paris to survive.

In the 1860s, Reboux's hats caught the attention of the future Empress Eugénie de Montijo. In 1865, Caroline opened her first store on Rue de la Paix, a luxurious neighborhood in Paris, where she worked for her entire life. While maintaining this store as her flagship, Reboux later opened other stores in Paris and London. Additionally, she facilitated the opening of fashionable hat shops in New York and Chicago.

The Queen of Hat Fashion

Caroline Reboux held the title of the Queen of Hat Fashion for over 50 years, and her influence on the birth of high fashion was comparable to that of Charles Frederick Worth, known as the father of couture. Reboux created hats exclusively for European royalty, and she was the first milliner to add veils to women's hats. She also pioneered the trend of colored veils and produced a vast number of fashionable theater hats, which were then imitated by fashion enthusiasts from all social classes.

In the 1920s, Reboux introduced the popular cloche hats, bell-shaped hats that became a fashion statement. She was also responsible for the creation of soft felt hats. Reboux had unique ways of making hats, sometimes placing a piece of felt directly on the client's head and then cutting and shaping it. She was always a leading designer in inventing new forms and drew inspiration from the works of great artists, such as the Gainsborough straw hats with wide brims and turban-like toques seen in Élisabeth-Louise Vigée-Le Brun's portraits.

A Lasting Legacy

Caroline Reboux collaborated with most major European fashion houses, complementing their collections with her feminine hats. An interesting aspect of her business was that she shared half of the profits with the head cashier, workshop master, workshop director, and chief manager – all of whom were predominantly women. Reboux represented Parisian trade at the 1900 World Paris Exhibition.

Despite a forty-year age difference, she was a close friend of the avant-garde designer Madeleine Vionnet. One of her most loyal clients was actress Marlene Dietrich, who popularized hats, caps, and berets, which had not been worn by women before. Dietrich would purchase them from Reboux's store on Avenue Matignon.

Caroline Reboux's company ceased to exist in 1956, but over 300 of her creations are preserved in the Musée de la Mode et du Textile in Paris. She lived to a ripe old age and passed away in 1927 at 90 years old. After her death, her business was managed by Mademoiselle Lucienne.