22 posts tagged "Vionnet"
“Polar Vortex” was the phrase on everyone’s blistered lips this week during a bitter cold spell that sent most of the U.S. into a deep freeze. As we learned firsthand while trudging to and from appointments on the city’s icy sidewalks, even the most thermodynamic winter coat (plus a hat and gloves) wasn’t enough for bone-chilling temperatures like these. Did designers divine this subzero weather? The new Pre-Fall collections offer plenty of fresh ideas for bundling up in style. Blanket dressing, in particular, has emerged as one of the season’s most welcome trends. Labels including Acne Studios, Chloé, Vionnet, and Chanel featured soft wraps made for swaddling. For the finale at his Burberry Prorsum menswear show in London yesterday, Christopher Bailey draped heritage plaid blankets over each model’s left shoulder. Geraldo da Conceicao at Sonia Rykiel, meanwhile, struck a similar cozy note with piled-on sweaters draped around the neck like stoles.
On the surface, Madeleine Vionnet—the 1920s and thirties revolutionary known for inventing the bias cut and creating elegant, sculptural, corset-free looks—and Hussein Chalayan—the conceptual daredevil responsible for the bubble dress, wearable furniture, and, most recently, his Spring ’14 hat-umbrella hybrids—don’t appear to have much in common. However, upon further inspection, the grandmother of modern dress and the cerebral Cyprian designer are remarkably similar—namely in their obsessive attention to detail, forward-thinking attitudes toward femininity, and refusal to be slaves to the past. Perhaps that’s why Goga Ashkenazi, who acquired Vionnet in 2012, tapped Chalayan to design the storied house’s demi-couture range. “I can kind of see why they asked me, because of my, let’s say, architectural approach and my interest in geometry,” said Chalayan, whose first Vionnet collection will hit the runway on January 21 during the Couture shows in Paris. “I like to do work that looks new rather than referential. So I think it’s a good collaboration, to be honest.”
Since the announcement of Chalayan’s appointment last week, his forthcoming take on Vionnet’s philosophy has been hotly anticipated. And it will be interesting to see how his presence at the house affects its stature. After laying dormant for more than sixty years, Vionnet was awakened in 2006, and saw a veritable revolving door of designers—some of whom, to put it nicely, didn’t do its namesake justice. Since buying the struggling brand, Ashkenazi (who, in addition to serving as its chairman, is the creative director of the label’s ready-to-wear line) has made a noble effort to restore Vionnet to its former glory. Could Chalayan’s twenty-plus years of boundary-breaking experience be the ticket back to the top? Here, Chalayan talks to Style.com about his debut Vionnet outing; making couture more accessible (if only a little); and why, despite his artistic approach, he’s not just a conceptual designer.
How did Goga Ashkenazi approach you about this project?
Davide Dallomo, who works with Goga, reached out to make the introduction. Then I met Goga in Milan just after the summer. We had a few conversations, and we signed a month before Christmas. Goga liked my initial sketches. We got along right from day one, and I was happy that I was able to realize a lot of my ideas with a few of Goga’s suggestions and changes. We had our first fitting before Christmas, and I’m pretty pleased.
Why did you say yes to Vionnet? Did you have any reservations?
I had to think about it, of course. But when I met Goga, she’s honestly such a life force. She’s got this amazing creative energy. She’s a great entrepreneur, and I thought, “My God, you’re only 33.” Also, she talks about how we’re all honoring Vionnet here. It’s not [Goga's] personal line. Vionnet is such an establishment. It’s got an undisputable heritage, so I thought it might be an exciting thing to do.
Vionnet was a revolutionary in the twenties and thirties, and her work has been inspiring designers for almost a century now. Is it intimidating to design clothes that bear her name?
No, because it’s not old Vionnet. This is a modern interpretation of Vionnet, and the whole idea is to keep her name going. I don’t think there’s pressure because we’re not trying to replicate what she did. We’re trying to work through her spirit. We live in different times. I’d like to think that she’d be pleased with it. It shouldn’t be seen as intimidating. I like to be positive about it rather than to think, “Oh, my God, how am I going to manage?”
In the last decade, several heritage houses have been revived to varying degrees of success. As a designer with a distinct point of view, what do you think it takes to respectfully work for and thrive at a heritage brand?
The whole idea is to look at what Vionnet would have done if she were living in this place and time. We are genuinely looking at the principles and the worldview that Vionnet had, and thinking about how that could be interpreted for now. There are already parallels in my work because of my interest in graphicism and sculptural forms and their relationship to the body. But it’s about honoring the brand. It’s not about my brand. It’s a different kind of responsibility from doing your own thing. The whole project is surrounded by a big sense of responsibility to do the right thing, and to respect Vionnet. Of course, my name will be associated with it, but honestly, it’s an honorary project.
While haute couture can soar into the six-figure price range, demi-couture sticks at a still daunting—but more accessible—five figures. Why is that? And can you speak to the difference between the two practices?
It has nothing to do with the nature or the preciousness of the garments. It’s to do with the number of fittings that the client gets. The fittings are what really raise the cost, so we will do one fitting only, as opposed to ten fittings.
What is the relevance of couture today, whether it be demi-couture or haute couture? How do you think it fits into the fashion landscape in this economic climate?
Goga is the director of Vionnet, and its owner, but she’s also a couture customer. So one thing she was saying is that you spend endless amounts of money on the fittings, and that’s why she wants to do demi-couture. In this economic landscape, it’s a very good way of looking at couture—you are still offering highly refined garments, but customers are saving on the costs because of the reduced number of fittings. That’s quite a good move on her part. Continue Reading “Hussein Chalayan on His “Unobvious,” “Intelligent-Sexy” Vision for Vionnet” »
It’s going to be an exciting couture season this January, full of fresh perspectives from old favorites. As we’re sure you’ve heard, Marco Zanini will present his debut collection for the revived house of Schiaparelli on January 20, and today, we’ve learned that conceptual fashion provocateur, Hussein Chalayan, has been tapped by the storied house of Vionnet to design its demi-couture collection, which was launched in Spring ’13. Chalayan will unveil his first outing for the brand in Paris on January 21. Goga Ashkenazi, Vionnet’s chairman and creative director who acquired the label in 2012 after a tumultuous round of designer switch-ups, told WWD she was “extremely happy about this collaboration,” and added that Chalayan is “a true artist, very conceptual, he thinks out of the box and has a strong architectural approach. He represents what Madeleine Vionnet represented in her era.” We have to admit, we’re excited to see what kind of cerebral kick that Chalayan—the man who, over the last twenty years, has been responsible for everything from the original bubble dress, to LED frocks, to conical wooden skirts—might bring to the house.
In less than four short years, designer Bouchra Jarrar has quietly accumulated a major following. Last year, she received the Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres medal for her contribution to the French arts. No less an expert than Olivier Saillard has likened her to a “modern Vionnet.” And, as those who are smitten by Jarrar’s take on urban dressing (a killer Perfecto, a mean pair of trousers, an understated dress that needs no further embellishment) can attest, the designer is truly a couturière at heart.
Today, the Commission de Classement Couture—the body in charge of deciding who makes the grade as a Couture house—made it official: Jarrar is now a member of the Couture elite, and, it’s worth emphasizing, she’s the only female designer in the bunch. Indeed, her presence is a welcomed one in this male-dominated class of masters, and we can’t wait to see what she comes up with next.
Though perhaps an enfant no more, Jean Paul Gaultier’s long-standing reputation as one of fashion’s enfants terribles hardly jives with the concept of a traditional museum retrospective. In fact, Gaultier himself finds it hard to imagine his designs in such a setting. “I am from the generation where, when I saw an exhibition of someone’s work, they were dead!” he told us. “I think I am still alive, and I never in my dreams thought that a museum could be interested in the work I’m doing.”
However, judging by the buzz around The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk, both museums and the masses are keen on a comprehensive showcase of the designer’s work. And, having bowed in 2011 at the Montréal Museum of Fine Arts, this traveling exhibition is, of course, anything but ordinary. Set to make its East Coast debut at the Brooklyn Museum this Friday, the Thierry-Maxime Loriot-curated show offers a look at Gaultier’s career through the lens of his fixations, from punk rock to corsetry to his many muses. Animated faces (including the visage of Gaultier himself, which is paired with his signature Breton shirt) are projected on many of the show’s mannequins. Elsewhere, S&M-inspired gear is shown in stacked booths reminiscent of a red light district. Ahead of the New York opening, Style.com caught up with the master himself to talk reality television, haute couture, and his career as an accidental provocateur.
When you were initially approached about having an exhibition, did you ever feel any reluctance?
At the beginning, yes. I refused. For me, it was truly for dead people. But after meeting the team at the Montréal Museum of Fine Arts, I thought, “Ah! Maybe we can do something that is not dead.” It’s nice because it’s a new adventure and it’s not one fixed, chronological exhibition. I did not want it by color or year. I prefer to group the clothes by the things that I’m obsessed with, or the things that are important to me, with different periods mixed together.
Your Spring ’14 runway show took inspiration from both Dancing With the Stars and Grease. Has your relationship with pop culture changed over the years?
I have always been impressed by rock culture, rock shows, people like Mick Jagger, David Bowie, and the New York Dolls—all that influenced me. I look a lot at TV, even trashy programs, reality TV sometimes, and love the contests like Dancing With the Stars. I think I am a little American that way! It’s super interesting, psychologically, and I love performance. Continue Reading “Jean Paul Gaultier: “My Purpose Is Not To Shock”” »