Fabric living its own life. A mantra of Madeleine Vionnet that also informs her successors, Barbara and Lucia Croce, in their first Autumn/Winter collection for the house. Glancing back to Vionnet’s heritage and its place in fashion history, Barbara and Lucia bring the Vionnet signatures up-to-date, translating the Vionnet idiom and making the house style exciting and inspiring for the modern woman.
Intarsio, the inlaying one fabric into another and a signature established by Madeleine Vionnet when her maison first opened in 1919, is once again a fundamental principle that runs through all designs. Combine that with the legendary bias cut and Vionnet’s trademark use of classical drapery, and the codes of the house are evoked constantly, consistently, through the very material of the clothes.
Intarsio effects are achieved by piecing together different weights of fabric, combining wool suiting, alpaca and gabardines with organza, crêpe de chine and georgette, hard against soft. Evening fuses with day. Knits give an intarsia effect, and fabrics are specially-woven to mimic marquetry. Furs pick up the intricacy of these dressmaking techniques: two shades of marmot merge on a curve-hem swing coat, long-haired fox is inlaid into sheared beaver in an innovative new approach to fur, creating the trompe l’oeil of a fur stole. That effect is picked up in dresses that appear at first glance to be sweater and skirt, and conversely drapery that seems to fuse two garments.
All is never what it appears. Leather becomes as supple as silk taffeta, a jacket draping with the fluidity of a silk scarf. That sense of movement in fabric is key, hems undulating with the natural bias of the fabric, and tunics opening along the spine in fluttering wings, echoed in deep vents in stunning tailoring always cut with a light hand.
Eveningwear is strikingly simple, columns of fabric draping easily around the body, sometimes embellished with an intricate mosaic of sequins like shattered stone or glass, appearing effortless but perfectly engineered to the female form.
Colours mix the natural hues of 1930s interiors – walnut, deep mahogany, anthracite grey and camel – with vibrant injections of vivid mineral shade of cobalt, acid chartreuse, coral and lapis blue. These colours surface in shoes that intarsio together elements to create a new hybrid, and in envelope bags of different sizes constructed from a single piece of box calf or pony-skin. Necklaces and cuffs in satinée gold utilise the semi-precious stones that inspire the colour-palette, and are aerodynamic in shape, moulded to the body like the clothes for the perfect fit.