Betty Kirke Madeleine Vionnet

ISBN 13: 9780811819978

Madeleine Vionnet

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9780811819978: Madeleine Vionnet

Back in print at last, with a ravishing new cover, Madeleine Vionnet is "not only the best book on Vionnet, but perhaps the best book ever on a fashion designer" (Out). Madeleine Vionnet (1876–1975) was the greatest dressmaker in the world. Considered a genius for her innovations with the bias cut the most difficult and desirable cut in clothing design she has a fanatical following. Vionnet was a maverick, her results spectacular. She dressed the stars of the '30s, invented new pattern-making techniques, and eschewed corsets for her models. Vionnet's dresses are virtually un-copiable and highly coveted by vintage clothing collectors. Madeleine Vionnet is the definitive study of this venerated artist. Illustrated with more than 400 photographs, line drawings, and watercolors, it also includes 38 original patterns for Vionnet dresses. As the Art Deco Society of L.A.'s newsletter has said, anyone "interested in Art Deco or fashion must have this book."

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Review:

Madeleine Vionnet's greatest distinction as a designer was her discovery of the bias cut. Cutting patterns along the bias forces the fabric to cling to the body and move with it, which created her trademark look of draped, form-conscious clothing. When designer Issey Miyake first saw a Vionnet dress, it was like the first time he saw Winged Victory at the Louvre: "I thought then that the statue of Nike had been reincarnated in the dresses by Vionnet. She had captured the most beautiful aspect of classical Greek aesthetics: the body and movement." Vionnet's long career as a dressmaker and designer began with the 20th century. Always conscious of women's bodies and inspired in part by modern dancer Isadora Duncan, she soon dispensed with corsets and other constricting garments, and used barefoot models to present her first solo collection. Though simple, her dresses were never plain; the use of a Cartier necklace as a halter strap is a classic Vionnet innovation. This inimitable combination of comfort and glamour made Vionnet's clothes a favorite among European nobility, Hollywood royalty--notably Marlene Dietrich, Gypsy Rose Lee, and Katharine Hepburn--as well as socialites and other trendsetters. Close to a century after its introduction, the bias cut remains an important element in clothing design.

Madeleine Vionnet is a tall book that echoes many of the designs inside. It is filled with contemporary photographs of the clothing, period pictures shot by Man Ray and Steichen, design sketches, and, perhaps most interestingly, patterns for the clothes. The accompanying text traces Vionnet's evolution from an 11-year-old seamstress, through her days apprenticing at the famed Callot Soeurs couture house in Paris, and on into the design empire that secured her an enduring spot in fashion history.

About the Author:

Betty Kirke has been a fashion designer and costume restorer at the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. She lives in New York.

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