Fashionista Friday – Madeleine Vionnet’s Roses

Evening dress, Madeleine Vionnet, ca. 1929, Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Every once in a while, the influence of a particular designer seems to permeate the fashion industry all at once. These days, it seems like everything is coming up roses—Vionnet roses, that is.

Madeleine Vionnet (1876-1975) was a pioneer couturiere who brought the bias-cut dress to modern fashion. Her Euclidean patterns rendered dresses that flowed and skimmed on the body, molding themselves to their wearer’s body, as opposed to contorting the wearer to fit the garment.

While Vionnet’s legacy is primarily due to her working with bias cuts and in the round, she had a fondness for using roses in her designs. Vionnet’s roses were often abstract and judiciously placed to taper the waist, emphasize the hips, or flatter the shoulders. Vionnet’s roses were sometimes printed, but often skillfully rendered in pintucks, appliqué, or embroidery.

In true testament to Vionnet’s artistry, it is not just her geometric patterning that reappears in contemporary fashion.  Her designs are reimagined, reinterpreted and modernized for today’s consumer.  They aren’t direct copies, and they aren’t even 1930s-esque, but there is an uncanny similarity.  Do you see Vionnet’s influence in contemporary clothing?

Left: Evening dress, Madeleine Vionnet, silk roses on tulle, 1925.
Right: Evening dress, Sue Wong, chiffon rose detail, 2012.

Left: Ball gown, Madeleine Vionnet, 1935, Victoria and Albert Museum.
Right: Amelia Rose Burnout Dress, Phase Eight, 2012.

Left: Evening Gown, Madeleine Vionnet, velvet rose applique, ca. 1938, Doyle New York.
Right: Maxi dress, Monsoon, 2010.

Left: Ensemble, Madeleine Vionnet, 1927, The Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
Right: Leifsdottir Abbey Rose dress, 2010.

Left: Summer dress, Madeleine Vionnet, crepe de chine appliqued with panne velvet roses, 1918.
Right: Mini dress with rose applique, ASOS, 2012.

Sadly, Vionnet shuttered her doors in 1939 due to World War II, and never reopened her atelier again.  Today, the House of Vionnet is maintained by Matteo Marzotto and Gianni Castiglioni, who acquired the Vionnet brand in 2008 and since then have endeavored to relaunch “an idea of fashion that is contemporary, without forgetting the outstanding aspects of its history…by reinterpreting the extraordinary innovative elegance that distinguished the work of Madeleine Vionnet.”

Resources
Golbin, Pamela, ed.  Madeleine Vionet.  New York: Rizolli, 2009.
Milbank, Caroline Rennolds.  Couture: The Great Designers.  New York: Stewart, Tabori & Chang, Inc., 1985.
Vionnet Paris website, www.vionnet.com (accessed November 29, 2012).
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