DALLAS, Feb 18, 1998 (Updated Sep 3, 2009)/ FW/ — Madeleine Vionnet was born in 1877 and founder her fashion house in 1912. Her greatest contribution to design is her invention of the bias cut in 1922 that made her famous.
Cutting patterns along the bias forces the fabric to cling to the body and move with it, which created her trademark look of draped, form-conscious clothing.
Regarded by many as the greatest dressmaker of the 20th century, Vionnet was always conscious of women’s bodies. She dispensed with corsets and other constricting garments and used barefoot models to present her first solo collection.
Though simple, her dresses were never plain; the use of a Cartier necklace as a halter strap is a classic Vionnet innovation. This inimitable combination of comfort and glamour made Vionnet’s clothes a favorite among European nobility, Hollywood royalty–notably Marlene Dietrich, Gypsy Rose Lee, and Katharine Hepburn–as well as socialites and other trendsetters.
Opening her first boutique in Paris at 50 Ave Montaigne in 1923, she followed it by opening a store in New York in 1925. Her house grew to employ 1,200 seamstresses, and was the first to create prêt-a-porter designs from haute couture for the US market.
Vionnet closed down her house as World War II broke out in 1939, dying in 1975 at the venerable age of 99.