Last week came the news that Matteo Marzotto, former president of Valentino, and Gianni Castiglioni, CEO of Marni, have acquired the label of Vionnet planning to relaunch it with a preview in Milan, next June and a real start up during the Paris Fashion Week in October. The collection will be designed by Rodolfo Paglialunga, former designer of Prada.
Madeleine Vionnet was born into a poor family in Chilleurs-aux-Bois in 1876. She became a dressmaker's apprentice at the age of 11 and after a marriage and a divorce, at the age of 18 she moved to London. She soon came back to Paris, worked for Doucet and open her own house in 1918 in Rue de Rivoli, moving in the 20s to Avenue Montaigne.
Influenced by the Greek art and the Dance of Isadora Duncan, she knew that a draw on paper cannot simulate the feeling of fabric on skin. The keyword was simplicity: she started from classic shapes (circle, rectangle, triangle), transforming them into fluid structures held together by a single seam, without buttons or fastenings. Her dresses flowed on the body accentuating the natural shapes instead of molding them, perfectly representing the fluidity of motion.
She used unusual fabrics for 20s/30s such gabardine, satin and her favorite, silk crepe Romain, accomodating them to creat luxurious yet simple draping.
She dominated the haute couture scene of the 30s and was also a pioneer in the fashion industry beiing the first to export ready-to-wear to the United States. Her fashion maison was also impeccably run: there were over 1000 seamstresses and 10 models, nurses and doctors for the workgirls. She was the first to introduce paid holidays and maternity leave too.
She died at the age of 99, on March 2, 1975.
At today she's still known as one of the most influential fashion designers of the 20th century, yet she disliked the fashion world, considering it too frivolous and superficial. Her point of view on female beauty was truly personal and she never betrayed her own ideas.
The parisian historical maison, closed down in 1939, at the beginning of the World War II and had a first brief revival in 2006, with a collection designed by Sophia Kokosalaki first and by an in-house team then, with less than favorable reviews...
"With Vionnet I would like to bring back to life an idea of fashion that is contemporary without forgetting its history" Marzotto said . Will see!