Vionnet, Madeleine

(1876-1975)
   Born in Chilleurs-aux-Bois, Loiret, France, to a poor family, Vionnet was a dressmaker's apprentice at age eleven for Madame Bourgeuil. In 1863, when she was seventeen, she moved to Paris and worked at the house of Vincent, where she later became a première, at the age of nineteen. She married at eighteen, but after the death of her infant daughter, divorced her husband and moved to London; there, she was employed at Mme.
   Kate Reilly and learned to copy the work of top Parisienne couturiers. In 1900, she returned to Paris where she worked with Madame Gerber, at the house of the Callot Sisters. It was here that she gained an understanding of the female form, was exposed to sumptuous fabric, and acquired her passion for cutting and draping, which were to become hallmarks of her career as a designer. In 1907, Vionnet moved to the house of Doucet, where she met many celebrities of the time such as Cécile Sorel, diva Mary Garden, and the notorious Marquise de Casati. Inspired by an American dancer, Isadora Duncan, and her braless, barefooted performance, Vionnet's first collection for Doucet was a collection of déshabillé, lingerie-inspired dresses, which were presented on braless, barefooted models. In protest, the powerful vendeuses at Doucet refused to sell the clothes. Shortly after this rebellion, designer Paul Poiret showed his uncorseted collection and was ultimately given credit for having eliminated the corset.
   In 1912, Vionnet opened her own house on rue de Rivoli, with financial help from M. Lillas owner of the Bazar de l'Hôtel de Ville, but closed in 1914, at the onset of World War I. She moved to Rome and after the war, there were great bursts of creativity in the industry, especially in textiles and in the arts, which would inspire Vionnet. Two inspirations were the method of piece-dying cloth, which stabilized yarn twist, allowing for stretchier bias grain, and the artistic movement called Cubism, which used simple geometric shapes inspired by African art. Vionnet also studied ancient Greek and Roman dress, specifically the rectangular and kimono silhouette. These all became inspirations for many of her collections, such as her famous bias cut, twists, cowl necklines, zig-zag cut waist seams, chiffon handkerchief dresses, and Asian-inspired body-wrapping methods. Her association with artist Thayaht (Italian-Ernesto Michelles) not only helped produce some of the most creative fashion illustrations of the 1920s but also were an inspiration for drawn-on printed patterns and a new aesthetic to the art of clothing.
   In 1918, Vionnet reopened her rue de Rivoli shop, again with the help of M. Villas and a new backer, the Argentinean Martinez de Hoz, whose wife was one of her best-known clients. Between 1924 and 1929, Vionnet created some of the most exquisite embroideries in partnership with the house of Lesage. In 1922, Théophile Bader, owner of the Galeries Lafayette department store, invested in the house of Vionnet. The company's name was changed to Vionnet et Cie and, in 1923, moved to luxurious quarters on Avenue Montaigne. In an effort to teach the secrets of the bias cut, Vionnet set up a school on the premises in 1927, where interns got to study for three years before apprenticing at one of the ateliers. With the expanding American economy, Vionnet's work received enthusiastic acceptance and her clothes were copied and commissioned. In 1924, Vionnet's business manager Armand Trouyet, opened Madeleine Vionnet, Inc., in the United States and negotiated the first "royalty deal," whereby an American store would have exclusive rights to manufacture certain of Vionnet's couture styles and market them as "one-size-fits-all" ready-to-wear. The agreement, however, ended within six months. In 1926, Vionnet announced that it would manufacture its own ready-to-wear line and the first store to buy the collection was John Wanamakers.
   In 1923, Vionnet introduced a fingerprinted label to authenticate models and discourage copyists and was married the same year to "Captain Hetch," a shoe manufacturer. Up until Vionnet's retirement in 1945, she continually filed lawsuits against copyists and won. Together with her business manager Louis Dangel, two anti-copyist organizations were formed: in 1923, the Association pour la Défense des Arts Plastiques et Appliqués and, in 1928, the Société des Auteurs de la Mode. In 1929, Vionnet received the Order of the Chevalier of the Legion of Honor for her achievement and public service. The day known as Black Tuesday, October 29, 1929, marked the end of an era for many couturiers; French exports crashed as wealthy American families lost their fortunes during the Great Depression. Still through the 1930s, Vionnet continued to explore dressmaker details such as pleats, tucks, scarf dresses, and her signature rose motifs, as well as to create some of the most exquisite fur-trimmed suits and coats.
   Vionnet's client list included society women and women from the courts of Belgium, Italy, and Spain, as well as a Russian princess and the Countess of Chavaignac. After winning her lawsuit against Bader of Galeries Lafayette for copying, she showed her last collection in August 1939. At the end of World War II, Vionnet was too old to restart her company. In her retirement, she was known to give lectures in her home to teachers of the L'École de Chambre Syndicale. In 1991, a book on Vionnet's life and techniques was published by costume historian Betty Kirke. In 1995, the house of Vionnet reopened and, in 1996, the fragrance Haute Couture was launched.

Historical Dictionary of the Fashion Industry. .

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  • VIONNET (M.) — VIONNET MADELEINE (1876 1975) Couturière d’une science accomplie, Madeleine Vionnet est une des personnalités les plus éminentes de la mode française dans les années de l’entre deux guerres; sa principale innovation, l’emploi systématique du… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Vionnet — Dieser Artikel oder Abschnitt bedarf einer Überarbeitung. Näheres ist auf der Diskussionsseite angegeben. Hilf mit, ihn zu verbessern, und entferne anschließend diese Markierung. Madeleine Vionnet (* 22. Juni 1876 in Chilleurs aux Bois, Loiret; † …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Madeleine Chapsal — Pour les articles homonymes, voir Chapsal. Madeleine Chapsal Madeleine Chapsal en 1995 …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Madeleine Vionnet — (* 22. Juni 1876 in Chilleurs aux Bois, Département Loiret; † 2. März 1975) war eine französische Modeschöpferin. Von 1912 bis 1940 leitete sie, mit einer Unterbrechung während des Ersten Weltkrieges, ihren eigenen Modesalon in Paris. Die Marke… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Madeleine Vionnet — (June 22, 1876 March 2,1975) was a French fashion designer. Called the Queen of the bias cut and the architect among dressmakers, Vionnet is best known today for her elegant Grecian style dresses and for introducing the bias cut to the fashion… …   Wikipedia

  • Madeleine Vionnet — Nombre Madeleine Vionnet Nacimiento 22 …   Wikipedia Español

  • Vionnet —   [vjɔ̃ ne], Madeleine, französische Modeschöpferin, * Aubervilliers 22. 6. 1876, ✝ Paris 2. 3. 1975; eröffnete 1912 ihren ersten eigenen Salon in Paris; galt als die »Königin des Schnittes« und Erfinderin des Schrägschnittes, bei dem der Stoff… …   Universal-Lexikon

  • Madeleine Vionnet — Pour les articles homonymes, voir Vionnet (homonymie). Madeleine Vionnet, née à Chilleurs aux Bois le 22 juin 1876 et décédée à Paris le 2 mars 1975, est considérée comme l une des plus grandes couturières françaises et comme celle qui a le plus… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Vionnet — Pour les articles homonymes, voir Vionnet (homonymie). Logo de Vionnet Création 1912 …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Madeleine de Rauch — Pour les articles homonymes, voir Rauch. Madeleine de Rauch Nom de naissance Madeleine Bourgeois Naissance 25 août 1896 Ville d Avray, Hauts de Seine …   Wikipédia en Français

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