Friday, 15 March 2013

Dress of the Week - 1936 Madeleine Vionnet

This stunningly simple evening dress in tangerine silk was designed by French designer  Madeleine Vionnet  in about 1936.

Although this gown is quite modest in its coverage of the body, it is sleeveless with a deep back  neckline and the anchoring on the right shoulder allows the other shoulder to be bare, which is quite revealing, similar to the classical Greek toga.  
Perhaps this recent Valentino design was inspired by this amazing dress?
And this 1978 dress by American designer Halston.

Halston 1978
And even this 90s dress by Thierry Mugler.

Thierry Mugler 90s one shoulder orange dress.

Madeleine Vionnet was a genius in my book. Not only did she design this elegant Grecian-style dress, she introduced the bias cut to the fashion world, allowing the drape of the fabric to show off a woman's natural curves, without the use of corsets, padding or stiffening. Although her designs appear simple,they involved a lengthy preparation process, including cutting, draping, and pinning fabric designs on to miniature dolls, before recreating them in chiffon, silk, or Moroccan crepe on life-size models. 

Madeleine Vionnet at work, early 1920s.
It is thanks to her that we now have the handkerchief dresscowl neck, and halter top. Not only did she dress some of the great stars of the 1930s, Vionnet would have been wonderful to work for - revolutionary at the time, she insisted on  paid holidays and maternity leave and provided her workers with day facilities, a dining hall, and a resident doctor and dentist.  What a woman!
Deb xxx

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