Madeleine Vionnet

The dress must not hang on the body but follow its lines. It must accompany its wearer and when a woman smiles the dress must smile with her. ~Madeleine Vionnet

Madeleine Vionnet (June 22, 1876 – March 2, 1975) was a French fashion designer. Called the "Queen of the bias cut" and "the architect among dressmakers", Vionnet is best-known today for her elegant Grecianstyle dresses and for introducing the bias cut to the fashion world. Born into a poor family in Chilleurs-aux-Bois, Loiret, Vionnet began her apprenticeship as a seamstress at age 11. After a brief marriage at age 18, she left her husband and went to London to work as a hospital seamstress. Vionnet eventually returned to Paris and trained with the well known fashion house Callot Soeurs and later with Jacques Doucet. In 1912 she founded her own fashion house, "Vionnet". In the 1920s Vionnet created a stir by introducing the bias cut, a technique for cutting cloth diagonal to the grain of the fabric enabling it to cling to the body while moving with the wearer. Vionnet's use of the bias cut to create a sleek, flattering, body-skimming look would help revolutionize women's clothing and carry her to the top of the fashion world.

silk. She would order fabrics two yards wider than necessary in order to accommodate draping. Vionnet's apparently simple styles involved a lengthy preparation process. and satin to make her clothes. draping. Like Duncan." Eschewing corsets. before recreating them in chiffon.that were luxurious and sensual but also simple and . and pinning fabric designs on to miniature dolls. her clothes were famous for accentuating the natural female form.particularly dresses .Madeleine Vionnet believed that "when a woman smiles. fabrics that were unusual in women's fashion of the 1920s and 30s. including cutting. Vionnet was inspired by ancient Greek art. She used this "bias cut" to promote the potential for expression and motion. stiffening. and anything that distorted the natural curves of a woman's body. Vionnet created designs that showed off a woman's natural shape. padding. in which garments appear to float freely around the body rather than distort or mold its shape. creating clothes . Influenced by the modern dances of Isadora Duncan.gabardine. integrating comfort and movement as well as form into her designs. As an expert couturier. Vionnet used materials such as crêpe de chine. or Moroccan crepe on life-size models. Vionnet knew that textiles cut on the diagonal or bias could be draped to match the curves of a woman's body and echo its fluidity of motion. then her dress should smile too.

and timeless style. architectural form. it comes mostly from my having been an enemy of fashion. With her bias cut clothes." Vionnet was not concerned with being the "designer of the moment". a dining hall. day-care. She fought for copyright laws in fashion and employed what were considered revolutionary labor practices at the time . preferring to remain true to her own vision of female beauty. Vionnet acted as a mentor to later designers. Vionnet avoided public displays and mundane frivolities and often expressed a dislike for the world of fashion. An intensely private individual. Although the onset of World War II forced her to close her fashion house in 1939. Vionnet's vision of the female form revolutionized modern clothing and the success of her unique cuts assured her reputation. .modern.paid holidays and maternity leave. There is something superficial and volatile about the seasonal and elusive whims of fashion which offends my sense of beauty. Katharine Hepburn and Greta Garbo. cowl neck. Vionnet dominated haute couture in the 1930s setting trends with her sensual gowns worn by such stars asMarlene Dietrich. a resident doctor and dentist. passing on her principles of elegance. and halter top. movement. Characteristic Vionnet styles that clung to and moved with the wearer included the handkerchief dress. stating: "Insofar as one can talk of a Vionnet school.

Henri's Lillas' daughter. The House of Vionnet From 1912 to 1914 The House of Vionnet opened in 1912 at 222. Halston. Comme des Garçons. clothing and jewelry for the house. Both her bias cut and her urbanely sensual approach to couture remain a strong and pervasive influence on contemporary fashion as evidenced by the collections of such past and present-day designers as Ossie Clark. a futurist artist. Thayaht. the owner of the Parisian department store Bazar de l'Hôtel de Ville (BHV). . Azzedine Alaia. John Galliano. Mr. Lillas as main shareholder of the house. Issey Miyake andMarchesa. the house reopened after the war. an Argentinian. Germaine Lilas. Madeleine Vionnet closed the house and set off to visit Rome. Madeleine Vionnet provided one-third of the financing while the remaining investment was supplied by one of her clients. Madeleine Vionnet is considered one of the most influential fashion designers of the 20th century. when World War I started. joined Mr. Martinez de Hoz. Rue de Rivoli.Today. created Vionnet's logo and started designing textiles. From 1919 to 1940 In 1919. In 1914. During the same period.

logos. the first collection of Vionnet clothing shown at Charles and Ray was an enormous success. Few months later. In 1924. who own Charles & Ray Ladies' Tailors and Importers in New York City. de Hoz and Mr.In 1922. 1923. Lillas in a new venture called Vionnet & Cie and became the majority shareholder. Théophile Bader. . Vionnet & Cie entered into a distribution arrangement with Charles and Ray Gutman. hosted in the House's premises and directed Vionnet & Cie's managing director. Vionnet's new premises opened at 50. In November. From 1924 to 1937.[1] The so-called "Temple of Fashion". Vionnet introduced fingerprinted labels to authenticate models (each garment produced in Vionnet studios bears a label featuring Vionnet's original signing and an imprint of Vionnet's right thumb). he designed furniture. printed textiles. decorator George de Feure and crystal sculptor René Lalique. on April 15. a collaboration of architect Ferdinand Chanut. 1923 was a very active year for the house: Vionnet co-founded the first anticopyist Association (L'Association pour la Défense des Arts Plastiques et Appliqués). architect and designer Boris Lacroix was appointed art director of the House. owner of the Galeries Lafayette. incorporated a spectacular Salon de Présentation and two boutiques: a fur salon and a lingerie salon.Avenue Montaigne. joined current shareholders Mr.

[2][3] In 1925. to be adjusted to fit individual clients. the Vionnet New York Salon opened at Hickson and an exclusive collection of gowns was presented. the house was extremely active in the USA.handbags. Vionnet led the establishment of .. In 1924. The geometrical bottle was designed by Boris Lacroix while the scent was made in collaboration with the House of Coty. In 1927. Vionnet & Cie was the first French couture house to open a subsidiary in New York: Madeleine Vionnet Inc. in 1925. located at 661 Fifth Avenue. in France. During this time. Vionnet opened a salon in the Grand Casino at Biarritz. Vionnet & Cie signed an exclusive production and distribution agreement with Fifth Avenue retail store Hickson Inc. accessories and took part in the planning of Vionnet's perfumes. Arguably the first prêt-à-porter ever made from Paris haute couture. Vionnet also produced ready-to-wear designs for US wholesale. 'B'. In the mid-1920s. the garments bore a label signed by Madeleine Vionnet along with "Repeated Original" as a trademark name. the house launched its first limited edition perfume comprising four fragrances named alphabetically: 'A'. 'C' and 'D'. In 1929. The salon sold 'one-size-fits-all' designs with unfinished hems. Vionnet opened a school within her couture house to teach apprentices how to create clothing on the bias cut. In February 1924.

managing director of Vionnet & Cie. Place Vendôme in the former premises of Madeleine Chéruit and Elsa Schiaparelli. the P. Avenue Montaigne housing 21 workshops along with a clinic (equipped with both doctors and dentists) and a gymnasium. 1939. Vionnet decided to close her House. the house employed 1. . Madeleine Vionnet donated most of her designs to the archives of the UFAC (today part of theMusée de la Mode et du Textile in Paris) including 120 dresses from 1921 to 1939. The family primarily focused on accessories and the launch of new perfumes ("Madeleine Vionnet" in 1996 and "MV" in 1998).a new anticopyist association. On August 2. At this time. a reorganization of the House was contemplated.200 seamstresses. the Vionnet label was acquired by the Lummen family who reopened the house in 1996 at 21. In 1952.I. years after the closing of her house. When WWII approached.S. Madeleine Vionnet showed her farewell collection. directed by Armand Trouyet.A. In 1932. the House acquired a new five-storey building at 50. Vionnet was one of the most important Parisian fashion houses of the 1930s.. From 1996 to 2008 In 1988. Eventually.

[7] Arnaud de Lummen. [12] From early 2007.[13][14]Sophia Kokosalaki designed one more collection for the label before to be replaced in May 2007 by Marc Audibet.[10][11] A debut clothing collection was launched for Spring/Summer 2007 . following years of speculations. the relaunch was delayed. announced to the press a strategic collaboration with the house.Plans to reintroduce new ready-to-wear collections were first rumoured in early 2000[4] and really took shape in February 2003 when Sheikh Majed AlSabah.[16] . was appointed Creative Director of the house. in July 2006. The first new collection was unveiled to the public in December 2006 within the US edition of Vogue. [9] Sophia Kokosalaki. this first new Vionnet collection became exclusively available in the house atelier in Paris and within Barneys New York flagship stores in the USA.the first Vionnet clothing collection in 67 years.[6] Eventually. owner of Villa Moda. announced a return on the fashion scene.[8] He promised "a unique and genuine approach to bring forward the Vionnet vision" and not a simple revival.[5]New Vionnet collections were to be designed under the helm of Maurizio Pecoraro but due to the Iraq war. a Kuwaiti luxury department store. then at the peak of her fame. CEO of the house.[15] in an unexpected move from the house.

Marc Audibet resigned from the house who then appointed a pool of designers. Vionnet involved historical partners of the house."[17] However.Marc Audibet. 2009. a powerful textile group established in Italy since 1836. Matteo Marzotto announced the acquisition of the label[19] and the creation of a new and independent structure inMilan where Vionnet is now operated. In February 2008."[18] From 2006 to 2008. Since 2009 On February 24. such as the couture embroiderer Lesage. Matteo Marzotto also announced that some additional strategic . without revealing their identities. appointed as artistic advisor. in a new unexpected move. Vionnet produced made-inFrance "demi-couture" collections closed to hautecouture in the prices featured and the techniques and textiles used. Matteo Marzotto. it's an institution. stated: "Audibet has deeply understood the essence of Madeleine Vionnet. In her review of the collection. Arnaud de Lummen told Women's Wear Daily that he wanted the focus to be on the label's expansion and not on its designers: "Vionnet doesn't need to be associated with a designer's name. presented its sole and unique collection for the house in October 2007. Suzy Menkes. former General Manager and President of Valentino SpA. is one of the heirs of theMarzotto Group. fashion editor of the International Herald Tribune.

her dress should also smile. which not only expressed the body’s shape. . She added a third dimension to clothes. CEO of the fashion brand Marni. its crocodile purses with buckles shaped like deer. for its limited-edition hand-painted silk mousseline scarves. Natalie portman. and its unusual and high-quality fashion accessories. she never fit the fashion stereotype of the social butterfly. but. avoiding public displays and mundane frivolities. A native of the Jura mountains. Vionnet is now designed by Rodolfo Paglialunga who. she chose an intensely private lifestyle. and the previous four years at Romeo Gigli. Madeleine Vionnet: A new boutique with a history!! Madeleine Vionnet is something of a mystery.development is to be provided by Gianni Castiglioni. who freed painting from the confines of the traditional style of representation. in contrast to so many fashion creators. rather like Greek sculpture. giving them a flowing and supple structure. in the Art Deco style typical of the Vionnet period. Madeleine Vionnet’s ideas led to a more natural trend in women’s fashion: freeing women from the constraints of the corset. Her work has been compared to that of the cubists in art. When a woman smiles. To quote Madeleine Vionnet. prior to Vionnet. The elegant and refined interior has been designed in ebony and ivory. but giving them an emotional dimension as well. It’s a must-see. She greatly influenced the course of fashion during the 20s and 30s. A brand new Madeleine Vionnet boutique has just opened near Opera in the first arrondissement. her models followed the body’s forms. spent 13 years as a designer of womenswear at Prada.

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