I want to talk to you about one of my biggest inspirations since I started learned draping.
As I mentioned before, learning draping and creative draping was the biggest life changing thing that happened to my work. It was like a growth spurt that I witnessed in my kid!
In one day, he could stand up and walk, that was what happened in my work.
Before that, even though I studied fashion and had experience with patterns, drafting, cutting, sewing, I was a toddler! With draping all the puzzle pieces settled in the right places.
This is when I learned about her majesty, Madeleine Vionnet.
‘When a woman smiles, her dress must smile also’
I don’t want to go deep with her life story, but I encourage you to do so if you are into biographies as much as I am.
In short, she was part of a group of creative women who transformed fashion in the early 20th century. She was a true dressmaker and respected women’s bodies and freedom.
She amazed her clientele, and despite coming from an unprivileged upbringing, she successfully climbed up the ladder and became a very successful businesswoman, without marrying into money or without a well-connected boyfriend.
She had these four principles of dressmaking that I think it’s good to have in mind! – proportion, movement, balance and truth – reference back to the classical ideals of purity and beauty. She applied these principles to create innovative and progressive garments that presented a modern vision of the fashioned body.
The Truth in here refers to being natural.
She loved everything in its natural state — she was a purist and a minimalist.
She was fascinated with Greek and Roman early civilization outfits, and that’s why her fabrics are wrapping around & moving with the body.
She also took inspiration from contemporary art movements, particularly cubism.
Its reduction of nature into geometric shapes appealed to the designer, who translated the concept to many of her own creations.
In her early designs she would take a basic shape, like a rectangle or triangle, and work it on the body, allowing the characteristics of the fabric and the contours of the body to transform the 2D into a 3D garment.
Vionnet was famed for her innovative dressmaking techniques. The aesthetic simplicity of her designs was underpinned by an incredible level of structural complexity, particularly with regard to her original use of the bias cut.
Her first exploration into the bias technique are said to have been a skirt with a straight-cut back and bias-cut front, and a straight-cut dress with a bias look, finished at the neck with the bias-cut cowl drape. Then came the handkerchief point insert on skirts and at necklines, and in 1926 Vionnet launched the first all-bias-cut dress. In 1927, Vionnet opened a school within her couture house to teach apprentices how to create clothing on the bias.
I think I am destined to take the same road with her.
She opened her maison in Paris, and was very successful. She fought against plagiarism, and is one of the first designers that copyrighted her work. She was also a pioneer when it came to social welfare. Made up of a predominantly female workforce, Vionnet’s premises at 50 Avenue Montaigne had an onsite clinic with a doctor and dentist as well as a day care centre for the workforce’s children.
The house provided free meals in the canteen, coffee breaks and paid holidays (1 week in winter and 3 weeks in summer) to their staff. Classrooms allowed younger seamstresses and pattern cutters to further develop their craftsmanship, learning from the designer’s latest techniques.
She retired with the outbreak of WWII, and she donated the entirety of her archive, including 120 dresses, 750 toiles and 75 copyright albums, drawings and account books to the Union Francaise des Arts du Costume.
Now let’s take a look at some of her works that are my favorites.
With all that in mind, I want to share a few of my designs that I was inspired by her work.
I definitely have more designs that were inspired by Vionnet, but this mini-collection had the first few dresses that I started making right after I learned about her techniques.
I also shared the steps of making one of the gowns,
Click here to check it out!