DECADES OF FASHION: “An Architect Among Dressmakers”

“I never made fashion – I don’t know what fashion is……I only make the clothes I believe in.”

- Madeleine Vionnet

Madeleine Vionnet, who died at the age of 99 in 1975, is considered one of the greatest couturieres of the 20th century. Her creations were a complete work of art – understanding proportion, balance and the harmony between the dress and the dance of the woman’s body.

Ms. Vionnet, called “the architect among dressmakers,”  brought to couture an expertise in the use of the bias-cut for the world of women’s fashion. This cut refers to a technique employed today by designers for positioning cloth in such a way as to gain a stretch through the diagonal direction of the fabric. Bias-cut application allows clothing to better accentuate body lines and curves with the movement of a flattering drape.

Consisting of intricately cut bias triangles and rectangles skillfully mitered, a Vionnet dress could be slipped over the head and become form-fitting without the need for fasteners.

Madeleine Vionnet believed “when a woman smiles, then the dress should smile too.”

Eschewing corset stiffness, excess padding, or anything that might hide the natural curves of a woman’s body, Madeleine Vionnet worked designs to celebrate the female form.

Isadora Duncan’s introduction of modern dance as a revolutionary concept greatly influenced Vionnet’s aesthetic in creating designs that swirl a woman’s natural shape.

Vionnet used materials such as crepe de chine, gabardine and satin to make her clothes; these fabrics were unique in women’s fashion during the 1920s and 1930s.

Madeleine’s approach seamed measures of comfort, style and elegance. A Vionnet creation offers an interesting historical sewing perspective that I value as a current women’s ready-to-wear fashion designer for VERRIER!

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5 Responses to DECADES OF FASHION: “An Architect Among Dressmakers”

  1. Laurie Winthers says:

    Thank you for this post. It was very interesting and thoughtfully written. I learned something I didn’t know!

  2. Mick Lindberg says:

    I have always been a great admirer of her work,it was lovely to see so many of her amazing creations.
    In a time when it is difficult to differentiate one designer from the other, I particularly like to praise her attitude to “not making fashion ..only clothes she believed in.”.
    Instead of construction a shape that one had to fit into….she celebrated the female shape.
    Thanks Ashleigh.
    Love Mick

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