Couturier Carl Gellings better known as Cargelli (Rotterdam, 1930) post-war fashion icon, died last week (june 6th) at the age of 85. Many people do not know him, but Cargelli played a significant role in the fashion industry in Rotterdam beyond from the fifties until the mid seventies. He had a close relationship with Italy and he often showed his collections there. But also in his own living room. Cargelli designed his own hats. At that time this skill was not taught at the academy yet.

In 1952, Cargelli was the first fashion design graduate from a Dutch academy: the Fashion Design course at the Rotterdam Academy of Fine Arts. He designed costumes for the Rotterdam Comedy and dressed the first stars of the television. About four times a year he hosted fashion shows featuring over one hundred catwalk models. In 1959 he opened his flamboyantly furnished boutique Casa di Mode.  The salon was received well initially, but the growing popularity of jeans and casual wear meant that Cargelli closed the shop in 1974. He was director of the ‘Vrije Academie’ in Rotterdam.

Unique creations

Cargelli distinguishes itself with unique creations. Unusual combinations of colours, materials and fluid lines, always with a great sense of femininity and wearability. Alongside every collection, Cargelli produced characteristic illustrative drawings of his elegant creations. Even at almost 80 years of age, Cargelli still designed several collections a year in his house in the French countryside and dressed his wife in his creations.

In 2010 The Historical Museum Rotterdam paid attention with an exhibition in the Schielandshuis, to this almost forgotten Dutch fashion icon. With interviews, film footage, photographs, original drawings and of course more than 50 creations. Designs by his contemporaries Dick Holthaus, Max Heymans, Cees Terleth, Ferry Offerman and showed the Dutch fashion climate in the postwar period.

Rotterdam museum also hosts a lot of documentation from and about him in the depot, including his sketching and scrapbooks.


Fashion illustration by Linda Zoon

Pillbox ‘Marida’ Hat design by Cargelli, 1960 .

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