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Friday, 13 September 2013

Madeleine Vionnet: a true revolutionary!

Hey there.

I admire women who dare to become big, who dare to step over the boundaries.. and who are not afraid to bend the rules.
One of them was most definitively 

 Madeleine Vionnet 

..and this is her story.

The original shop advertisment

Born in Loiret, France, in 1876, Madeleine Vionnet started her career in fashion early, becoming an apprentice seamstress at the tender age of 11. She married at 18 but soon left her husband and made her escape to London, where she was employed as a seamstress in a psychiatric hospital before being taken under the wing of Kate Reilly, a dress maker whose clients included some of the best dressed ladies in London’s society. Before long Madeleine was running the workshop, and when she returned to Paris in 1901 her experience gained her jobs working for fashion houses Callot Soeurs and Jaques Doucet.

Adreiene Ames wearing a low back white evening dress,
designed to show off a deep tan

Her dresses were designed to flatter the body of The One 

With 25 years of experience under her belt, Madeleine decided to branch out on her own in 1912. The beginning of the First World War just two years later meant that the rise of the house was slower than anticipated, but it also ushered in a need for the freedom of movement and comfort that Vionnet championed with her designs. Women were throwing away the constricting corsets and highly decorative pieces in favour of outfits that were more practical with ease of movement. But don’t think that Vionnet’s pieces were utilitarian – her signature looks were figure-hugging gowns and serious glamour.

Irene Castle in 1922.

Gorgeous Evening Dress, 1936

Madeleine Vionnet was the first designer to champion the bias-cut, cutting fabric diagonally across the grain so that it fell and draped about the body. She took her inspiration from Greek art and modern dancers such as Isadora Duncan to create beautifully tailored pieces that celebrated femininity, always with a nod to the trends of the time, and were hotly in demand throughout the 1920s and 1930s with style mavens and film stars.

Like it's made out of water - the dress flows over the body

There's something about feathers draped in antique that appeals to me..

At the end of the 1930’s Madeleine Vionnet closed her fashion house, donating all the dresses and patterns to the Musee Des Arts Decoratifs in Paris, and though in recent years the label has been revived it’s Madeleine’s legacy that is remembered. Countless designers over the last decades have referenced her style - one look at the red carpet parade and her far-reaching influence is clearly evident.

 Why Madeleine Vionnet is so great?

Because it was not just her clothes that were pioneering.
  • campaigned for copyright laws to protect designers, 
  • she was one of the first employers to give maternity leave, 
  • she gave them paid holidays and 
  • free medical care to her staff.

..that is why she is on my "great women worth admiring" list.
And for the end, a quote of hers:
When a woman smiles, then her dress should smile too.

♥ Pinky Honey

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