Friday, September 18, 2009

The Genius of Madeleine Vionnet

Today I planned on perusing my "This and That, Hot News Tidbits" dossier to pull together one of those scattered posts of disjointed, though "riveting" (ahem) bulletins about all the important information on the fashion front.

While madly flipping through my file I found a page I ripped out of a recent magazine announcing the exhibition at the Musée des Arts Décoratif of 130 Madeleine Vionnet designs from 1912 to 1939, against a backdrop created by Andrée Putman.*

Certainly this brilliant woman --  "the queen of the bias cut" the "first architect of fashion design" -- deserves more than a passing comment. 

Here then is a tribute to the often overlooked, but never forgotten designer who, like Coco Chanel, wanted to liberate women not only from their corsets, but also from the constraints of a suffocating life.

Vionnet, who died in 1975 at the age of 99, is considered one of the greatest couturières of the 2oth century. 

Long before laws were established for the health and comfort of employees, Vionnet, ever considerate of those who turned her art into reality, provided chairs in her ateliers where before seamstresses were obliged to sit on back-breaking stools. She established a nursery, employed an in-house doctor and dentist and offered paid vacations. Her social advances were as avant garde as her body-caressing, lusciously draped flowing gowns.

A few quotes from those who understand her contributions to the art of high fashion:

Tom Ford: "Vionnet is, with Chanel and Yves Saint-Laurent, one of the three greatest couturiers of the last century. Her cut inspired generations of couturiers."

John Galliano: "Among all the couturiers from the 20th century, it is Vionnet who inspires me the most."

Jean-Paul Gaultier: "Madeleine Vionnet is the symbol of the apogee of haute couture."

Hubert de Givenchy: Madame Vionnet innovated in a fantastic way. I have always admired the perfection of her work and her grand creativity."

Karl Lagerfeld: "Everyone, whether the wish or not, is influenced by Vionnet."

Stella McCartney: "With Chanel and Yves Saint-Laurent, Vionned is the couturier I admire the most."

Zac Posen:  "Madeleine Vionnet created looks that are modern and timeless, even a dress from 1930 gives one the impression it was just created."

Yohji Yamamoto: "Vionnet was the laboratory of the 'cut'. I am in search of her shadow."

Issey Miyake: "I have always considered Vionnet as the greatest, the sole. When I create my models, Vionnet is my principal inspiration."

(*Until January 31, 2010.)


Drea said...

Wow, the first two dresses and that sheer white blouse are beautiful! Those are completely wearable today...

Deja Pseu said...

Those are stunning images. I've been familiar for a while with how influential her work was/is, but did not know that she was also a pioneer in decent working conditions (and what she provided her workers is still miles ahead).

Lisa said...

Thank you for this interesting post. I just learned something new and now I want to read more about her. Way back when I was in college I tried once to wear something a bit like the dress in the 2nd picture in an effort to be glamorous and not "cute" for at least one evening. I wish I could say it worked but it didn't. Not only did my hair collapse half way through the night, the bottom of my dress got wet (probably from all the spilled alcohol on the floor) and it stretched into something resembling a big dirty tablecloth. Makes me laugh to think back. about it.

Anoninoz said...

Wonderful - I did not know much about her at all until I read your post - thank you so much.....

Bonjour Madame said...

Her designs are beautiful.

Natalie said...

Wow is right. I've seen the blouse picture before (Irving Penn?), and have always loved it. Drea is spot on with her comment on the first two dresses. The second one, in full Hollywood Glamour, is the look I was hoping to find for my wedding dress, but alas it did not look right on my curves. I mourned the idea.

Thank you for this post!

Tish, I am coming up empty on the technical aspect of your request : )

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