Vionnet

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In what way did Madeleine Vionnet’s invention of the Bias cut revolutionize the relationship between dress and the body?

“The couturier should be a geometrician, for the human body makes geometrical figures to which the materials should correspond - Vionnet.” (Kirke,1998:18)

This essay will focus on Madeleine Vionnet’s invention and use of the bias cut and how it helped in revolutionizing the relationship between the dress and body. The essay will develop with a brief introduction about Vionnet and her journey towards becoming the Queen of the Bias cut. The essay will continue to focus on understanding the ‘bias cut’ and how it was used by Vionnet to create dresses that were completely different to the dresses that were worn during those times. The dresses will be then compared to Vionnet’s creations to analyse the changes it brought to the body, coming to the conclusion whether Vionnet’s invention brought a revolution to the relationship between the dress and body or not.

Madeleine Vionnet’s book written by Betty Kirke will be the key source of information to develop the essay as it provides information, not only about Vionnet and her life, but also gives a detailed information on her style of construction with deep focus on the bias cut. To analyse the changes that occur to the body with the bias cut dresses in contrast to the dresses from the past, I will use Kyoto Institute book to look at past dresses and their construction techniques and compare them with images of Vionnet’s dresses from online images.

Madeleine Vionnet started her journey to be known as the Queen of the bias cut from an early age of eleven.(Kirke,B.(1998) Madeleine Vionnet, San Francisco:Chronicle books.) She left school to become the apprentice to the seamstress of aubervilliers after which she travelled to London to be trained under Kate Reilly where she got the privilege to supply to the British Royal Family. (Vionnet Paris.(2012)Madeleine Vionnet.[online][Accessed on 11 december 2012] http://vionnet.com/about/madeleine-vionnet) On her return to France she worked with the famous Callot soeurs and later with Jacques Doucet. (Vionnet Paris.(2012)Madeleine Vionnet.[online][Accessed on 11 december 2012] http://vionnet.com/about/madeleine-vionnet) Vionnet got a a lot of attention while working with Doucet as most of his clients were famous actresses and Vionnet’s dresses worked best to bring attention to their bodies. (Kirke,B.(1998) Madeleine Vionnet, San Francisco:Chronicle books.) Vionnet called herself a dressmaker.(Kirke,B.(1998) Madeleine Vionnet, San Francisco:Chronicle books.) A dressmaker’s work is beyond what a seamstress does. Apart from stitching two pieces of fabric together either by hand or machine, a dressmaker integrates the three main elements of dress, the cloth, the body and adornment together beautifully. (Kirke,B.(1998) Madeleine Vionnet, San Francisco:Chronicle books.) This ability of combining these elements of a dress beautifully made Vionnet the best at her work. (Kirke,B.(1998) Madeleine Vionnet, San Francisco:Chronicle books.)

(Vionnet Paris.(2012)Madeleine Vionnet at work. [online image] [Accessed on 11 December 2012] http://vionnet.com/about/madeleine-vionnet

There are three directions of a woven fabric. The straight grain, the cross grain and the bias. Each woven fabrics yarn runs in two ways that are perpendicular to each other. The straight grain is the line running vertically to the salvage line. The cross grain is the line running across the straight grain. The yarn of the fabric does not run in bias. The true bias, therefore runs on a 45 degree angle between the two perpendicular lines. The true bias is where the fabric has its strongest ability to stretch. A square piece of fabric, when held from the corner hangs down and takes a shape of a diamond.(Kirke,B.(1998) Madeleine Vionnet, San Francisco:Chronicle books.) Therefore, the bias cut is used by designers to utilize the greater...
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