Madeleine Vionnet led a quiet, unassuming life. She was one of the most important designers of the 1920's and 1930's, and her work is currently on display in the Museum of Decorative Arts in Paris.
Born in Loiret, France in 1876, she began working as an apprentice seamstress at age 12. She refined her talents while working as head seamstress for the house of Callot Soeurs and later as the head of Jacques Doucet's maison de couture.
A Vionnet creation from the 1920's.
Vionnet rejected the corseted Belle Epoque gowns which were standard women's fashion at the time. Her designs centered around fluid, natural forms, inspired by Isadora Duncan and Loïe Fuller. She is credited with reinventing the bias cut, which allowed greater elasticity and flow.
A postcard featuring the logo for Vionnet's fashion house, designed by Thayaht in 1919.
Sketches for Vionnet's logo by Thayaht.
In 1912, Maison Vionnet was established. Although the outbreak of World War I and a lack of funds made for a difficult beginning, her determination and skill would prevail. By 1926, her staff counted over 1,200 employees.
Evening gown in pale pink lamé and black silk lace appliquéd with black silk velvet, 1939.
Evening gown from the spring/summer 1938 collection.
Evening gown in lamé and ivory silk net, 1938.
Maison Vionnet survived the stock market crash of 1929 and the labour strikes of 1936 only to be closed ten years later as World War II began. Though she was retiring from the fashion world, Vionnet had the foresight to preserve her files, which she donated to the Union Francaise des Arts du Costume (UFAC) in 1952.
Evening gown in silk tulle, panne velvet and horsehair with a silver lamé underdress and Lesage embroidery, 1938.
A 1921 sketch of a coat by Madeleine Vionnet.
Madeleine Vionnet passed away in 1975, but Maison Vionnet lives on. The label was purchased in February of this year by an Italian businessman and will be headed by former Prada womenswear designer Rodolfo Paglialunga.
A dress from the 2010 resort collection, designed by Rodolfo Paglialunga.