style file, vionnet

Dept. of culture
Vionnet: First Lady Of Fashion

Photo: Courtesy of Les Arts Décoratifs

With so few pants on the runway and so much leg on view, a tribute to Madeleine Vionnet—the designer who ensured that sexiness need not mean frostbite—is a welcome change from today’s usual eye candy. Madeleine Vionnet, Rizzoli’s latest coffee-table topper, is chockfull of designs replete with sensual draping and subtly suggestive nips and tucks; anything sheer is definitely a trompe l’oeil, but the effect feels supremely fresh. (See more images after the jump.) Famous for introducing the bias cut, Vionnet dressed women like chic goddesses. Fellow designer fans are legion: Karl Lagerfeld, one for whom admiration does not come easily, once declared, “Everybody, whether he likes it or not, is under the influence of Vionnet.” Perhaps even more enamored was Cristobal Balenciaga, who once gushed, “Madame Vionnet is my master.” The new book, edited by Pamela Golbin with photographs by Patrick Gries, includes previously unseen archival images, a Vionnet primer, and an unpublished manuscript commissioned by the designer on the history of the house. Rizzoli is fêting the book tomorrow night. Athena-like ensemble optional, but recommended.
—Alison Baenen