Monday, 8 November 2010

A Tribute

Yesterday, I was snooping around and came upon its "Need to Know Designers" section.  The latest featured designers such as Stephane Raynor, the founder of Boy London, and Reed Krakoff, President and Creative Director of Coach.  But then I came upon this gem, Madeleine Vionnet, revolutionary designer of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.  So, I thought I would give a tribute to the woman who stripped us of our corsets and gave us the luxury of movement and comfort.

Vionnet was born in Loiret, France in 1876 and became an apprentice seamstress at only 11 years old.  Fast forward 25 years after working for dressmaker Kate Reilly and fashion houses Callot Soeurs and Jacques Doucet, and Vionnet began to branch out on her own.  With the beginning of the First World War came the need of less constricting dresses, hence the creation of Vionnet's bias-cut.  It was a technique in which she cut the fabric diagonally across the grain, making the fabric drape about the body.  Her signature look was the figure-hugging gown, as shown below.  Absolutely beautiful?  I'd say so!

Not only was she a pioneer of fashion, but also a pioneer of workers' rights.  Vionnet was the first employer to offer her employees maternity leave, paid holidays, and free medical care.  I have to say, I think we are much indebted to Madeleine Vionnet!

Her fashion house closed at the end of the 1930s, after which she donated all her dresses to Musee Des Arts Decoratifs in Paris.  Today, it is easy to see how influential Vionnet has been on designers' approach to dressmaking.  Just take a look at some of these dresses:
At the Oscar's
John Galliano
A Wedding Dress

Madeleine Vionnet's legacy lives on. :)

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