Madeline Vionnet


I’ve been reading Tim Gunn’s Fashion Bible, an interesting and easy-to-read book on fashion history. I keep having to put the book down to find out more about some of the people he writes about. My latest distraction was figuring out who Madeline Vionnet was – how could I have missed her?

Madame Vionnet was born in 1876, trained in London, and founded her fashion house in 1912. Her business was closed during the war but she went back in business in the 1920s, opening her atelier on Avenue Montaigne in 1923. She invented the bias cut, going so far as copyrighting her idea. Her skill in draping fabric was legendary, and she is important for liberating women from stays and corsets. See Vionnet Paris article about her for more biographical information.

Edward Steichen. Model Marion Morehouse and unidentified model wearing dresses by Vionnet, 1930. Courtesy Condé Nast Archive, New York © Condé Nast Publications. Image from International Center of Photography website.

Satin evening dress, 1932-34. Gift of Miss Amy Bird. Photo courtesy Victoria and Albert Museum, Textiles and Fashion Collection.

Silk velvet and georgette evening dress, 1934. Gift of Mrs D.M. Haynes and Mrs M. Clark. Photo courtesy Victoria and Albert Museum, Textiles and Fashion Collection.

Evening Dress, 1938. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of Ann Payne Blumenthal, 1941.

Rayon Evening Dress, 1938. Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of Madame Madeleine Vionnet, 1952.

Duchess of Windsor in a Vionnet dress, 1937. Photo courtesy Vogue.fr.

For a review of Tim Gunn’s book, see the Gilmore Guide to Books.

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