Vionnet's Goga Ashkenazi had big news last week: Hussein Chalayan is designing a demi-couture collection for the house that will have its debut in Paris later this month. The chance to see Chalayan apply his avant-garde sensibility to Madeleine Vionnet's legacy will make the label's couture week show a must-see. He'll have the good fortune of being able to focus primarily on eveningwear, which is where Vionnet made her mark. Ashkenazi and her design team, in contrast, have had to build a full ready-to-wear collection around the codes of bias-cut dresses.
That's not necessarily an easy task, but it's one that Ashkenazi has embraced with gusto. If her experiments for Pre-Fall didn't always hit the mark—the Amazon pants, with their extra squares of fabric at the hips, were probably a shade too exuberant—there were others that connected. She took plissé, a Vionnet signature, as a starting point, and she pleated just about everything. A glossy bottle-green leather dress pleated two ways and a black leather coat with pleats that she likened to origami were among the collection's best pieces. Elsewhere, a charcoal coat and poncho embellished with a royal blue cave-art design looked subtle and smart. Occasion dresses, for the most part, were de-emphasized here. A missed opportunity, perhaps. We don't necessarily need a logo sweatshirt or a fisherman's sweater from Vionnet. But a draped black jersey gown with a pleated pink back? That could have legs on the red carpet.