Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Paris and Madeleine Vionnet, puriste de la mode


I just got back from Paris on Sunday night. I went for 5 days, it was an included trip as part of my fashion program. It was exhausting and expensive but worth it I think. I've never loved Paris having had many a bad experience there being followed by strange men and treated rudely by Parisians but I think I had a more positive experience this time.

We were taken to the Musee D'Orsay, the Palais Royale, the Marais, the Cligancourt market, as well as various other tourist attractions. But for me the highlight by far was the Vionnet exhibition at the Musee de la Mode et du Textile. Famous for the "bias cut," Madeleine Vionnet’s sophisticated approach to couture remains a pervasive influence today. Eschewing artificial and restrictive padding and stiffening, she liberated the female form with designs that integrated movement and comfort into women’s fashion. She also championed unusual fabrics that were luxurious and sensual yet simple and modern—chiffon, silk, crêpe de chine, gabardine, and satin. Her most revolutionary creations—the handkerchief dress, cowl neck, and halter top—cling to and seamlessly move with the wearer. Vionnet’s principles of elegance, movement, architectural form, and timeless style continue to inform contemporary fashion.

What struck me most about this exhibit, apart from the sheer beauty of the dresses, was how modern most of them seemed and could still be worn today as though they were fresh off the runway. Galliano was apparently very influenced by Vionnet in his first few collections.

The level of detail and the workmanship on these dresses was totally stunning. Sadly not all the dresses are available for viewing on the website but there is a book coming out in September (they wanted 75 euros for it in Paris, but you can get it for $47 on Amazon, naturally) by Pamela Golbin with great photos of most of the dresses from the exhibition.

Its on through January 2010 so if you are in Paris any time soon you definitely must see it! Everyone is predicting the 30's will be very big next year (partially as a result of this show) so go scour ebay before everyone else does.

More stuff about Paris next entry.