Madeleine Vionnet was arguably one of the most important fashion designers of all time. She was a master at draping and the inventor of the use of the bias cut. Her ingenious details and intricate seaming have fascinated designers and vintage clothing lovers for decades. For a detailed look at Vionnet's designs, we highly recommend
Betty Kirk's book.
Madeleine Vionnet closed her company in 1939, on the eve of WWII, but interest in her designs has never died. In 1988, Guy de Lummen, head of the ready-to-wear department at Balmain, bought the rights to Vionnet's name and spent two decades exploring ways to re-establish the brand, experimenting with perfume, scarves, and bags. Now, de Lummen's son Arnaud has announced the rebirth of the Vionnet clothing line. He has hired Greek designer, Sophia Kokosalaki, as creative director, and a line of high-end ready to wear will be offered in January 2007 through Barney's, New York and the Vionnet studio in Paris.
Kokosalaki was chosen "because her interest in technical innovations, combined with her romantic, feminine clothes, fit nicely with Vionnet’s legacy." Like Vionnet, Sophia drapes her designs, rather than using a flat pattern. Since bursting on to the fashion scene in 1999, she has consistently won praise for her artfully draped but thoroughly modern designs.
The first runway show of the new Vionnet line will debut in Spring 2007. It remains to be seen whether Kokosalaki can pay proper homage to the genious that was Madeleine Vionnet. We'll keep you posted!