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Latest Articles - Luxury

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Madeleine Vionnet – the Legend of French Fashion

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Madeleine VionnetParis is the major capital of the world fashion for over a century and this is natural since France is the lovely and elegant place that gave to the world so many legendary fashion designers including Chanel, Yves Saint-Laurent, Karl Lagerfeld, Jean-Paul Gaultier, and Christian Lacroix... And yet, Madeleine Vionnet whose collections influenced the world of fashion to the extent as the works by the iconic Coco Chanel when the designer solutions turned the vision of women of 20s and 30s upside down regards to clothes.

When a woman smiles, her dress should also smile, stated Vionnet some time back. Theworks by the designer seemed to be revolutionary for the fashion in France of 30s. Madeleine Vionnet was too brave to ignore and refuse from girdles, insets and rigid silhouettes, that is everything that would break the natural shapes and smooth lines of a female body in favor of free, light and streaming fabric resembling classic Greek tunics. Unlike her contemporaries, Madeleine Vionnet gave the preference to light and half-sheer fabric like crepe-de-chine, chiffon, gabardine creating delicate drapery from the plain meters of the fabric that fitted tightly to emphasized the women’s shapes. Madeleine introduced the slanting cut minimizing the number of seams required. She created attires that required far more fabric and it was too complicated to put them on. The customers of the French designer had to train for some time to put the clothes on without assistance.

The style of antique that Madeleine was always inspired with committed to make her works unique and extraordinary. The clothes of this designer were never heavy and solid tocomplain. They fitted the body tightly by the natural shapes creating the image of a graceful and feminine woman. The collections by Vionnet presented the incredible blend of absolute lavishness so much valued by her customers and the bare tailoring when the designer never tried to employ decorative elements. The foremost and the only decorative component of the ensemble by Vionnet were still gentle and flying folds of drapery that accentuated the shapes.

Madeleine Vionnet never sewed the models but created in a very unique way: the complicated drapery that was the signature style of the designer was built immediately on the mannequin when the fabric was wrapped around the torso and fastened with pins. A woman then tried the dress acquired in this manner and as a rule the incredible drapery never required the rework ideally suiting the female body.

During the 30s the collections by Madeleine Vionnet dominated in haute couture till 1939 when the studio of the French designer was closed on the morning of the World War II. However, the dresses by Madeleine were loved by the reputed celebrities like Marlene Dietrich, Katharine Hepburn and Greta Garbo. The Fashion House by Madeleine Vionnet worked for some time only, within 1919 and 1939, the period between two worldwide wars.

However, Madeleine managed to turn the fashion canons upside down for these two decades as the legendary Coco Chanel did in her time. The designer changed the opinion of an ordinary woman to the clothes she wears that was not the rigid case but the natural attire to comply with.

The architecture employed by Madeleine Vionnet in her works tested by the time is still trendy today as well as in the time of her designing. The collections by Vionnet made a great influence to the modern designers. Alaia Azzedine, the French designer of Tunis origin named Madeleine the source of everything. John Galliano who made the classic slanted cut revive into the fashion admits that the works by Madeleine Vionnet inspired the entire generation and even Karl Lagerfeld who always disclaimed authority mentioned once that «like it or not, everyone is subject to Vionnet». The most reputed fashion designers used to acknowledge and still admit the invaluable commitment of Madeleine into the fashion: Cristóbal Balenciaga admitted her as his master to learn from and Christian Dior once stated that Vionnet could make the creation of a woman dress into the real art.

The Fashion House by Vionnet withal its traditions was revived long time after the death of the legendary couturier and only in 2007 when the Vionnet House was headed by the designer Sophia Kokosalaki. The native to Greek, Sophia was greatly inspired by antique silhouettes like Madeleine Vionnet.

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