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Madeleine Vionnet Hardcover – January, 1998

4.9 out of 5 stars 54 customer reviews

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Hardcover, January, 1998
$104.48 $49.95

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Madeleine Vionnet's greatest distinction as a designer was her discovery of the bias cut. 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. When designer Issey Miyake first saw a Vionnet dress, it was like the first time he saw Winged Victory at the Louvre: "I thought then that the statue of Nike had been reincarnated in the dresses by Vionnet. She had captured the most beautiful aspect of classical Greek aesthetics: the body and movement." Vionnet's long career as a dressmaker and designer began with the 20th century. Always conscious of women's bodies and inspired in part by modern dancer Isadora Duncan, she soon 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. Close to a century after its introduction, the bias cut remains an important element in clothing design.

Madeleine Vionnet is a tall book that echoes many of the designs inside. It is filled with contemporary photographs of the clothing, period pictures shot by Man Ray and Steichen, design sketches, and, perhaps most interestingly, patterns for the clothes. The accompanying text traces Vionnet's evolution from an 11-year-old seamstress, through her days apprenticing at the famed Callot Soeurs couture house in Paris, and on into the design empire that secured her an enduring spot in fashion history.

From Library Journal

This oversized book is costume historian Kirke's singular achievement, over 20 years in the making, and includes interviews with Vionnet (1876-1975) herself. The sexy, slinky bias-cut dresses associated with the 1930s were invented by Vionnet to move with the body and show every curve. Over 400 illustrations?45 in color?include archival photographs and magazine illustrations. A unique feature is the inclusion of 38 cutting patterns produced between 1917 and 1938. Cutting clothes for a woman's body was a geometric puzzle for Vionnet, and chapters are arranged by the rectangles, quadrants, and triangles that composed the gowns. Even surface decorations and furs were intricately cut. The "queen mother of haute couture" retired in 1939, but designers ever since have looked to her for inspiration. This expensive book is well worth the price for fashion and design collections.?Therese Duzinkiewicz Baker, Western Kentucky Univ. Libs., Bowling Green
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 244 pages
  • Publisher: Chronicle Books; First Edition edition (January 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0811819973
  • ISBN-13: 978-0811819978
  • Product Dimensions: 10.8 x 1 x 14.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.7 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (54 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,575,304 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Probably the best book I have read on bias construction. Decribes many of the techniques Vionnet used, like rules for mixing bias with straight weaves. The scale patterns are a major plus.
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By A Customer on October 27, 1998
Format: Hardcover
Finally, a fashion book worthy of its subject! This is a big, beautiful book, with high production values and gorgeous design. The writing is thoughtful and intelligent. The contents are informative and interesting. The photos are wonderful and the illustrations and patterns are amazing. I can't say enough good things about this book!
Too many fashion books have terrible writing paired with "artistic" photos that obscure the clothes. This book makes none of the mistakes that plagued recent books on St. Laurent and Beene. It's a wonderful book for fashion historians, dressmakers, and designers.
And Amazon's price is half of the bookstore price!
I recommend this book very highly.
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Format: Hardcover
It's so sad that the name of Madeleine Vionnet is today only familiar to students of fashion history. She was a revolutionary couturiere who still influences designers over half a century after her retirement. This is one of the best books about her work. I especially loved the reproduced dress patterns which reveal the extent of Miss Vionnet's genius. This book deserves to be reprinted.
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Format: Hardcover
I make and design clothes for the Madame Alexander doll Cissy. In the process of doing this, I began to do research on clothing made in the earlier part of this century. It was then that I discovered the beautiful work of Madeleine Vionnet. I saw the best work of many others, but Vionnet's dresses were pure magic, flowing and exquisite, so unlike anything of their period. So, when I saw this book with 38 patterns, I knew it was a necessity, and it certainly impressed me. The text was informative, and the photographs clear and showing the clothing well. Unduly impressive.
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Format: Hardcover
...as it will go up significantly in price when it goes out of print. A gorgeous resource, with excellent photographs of Vionnet's dresses and, notably, the inclusion of scale patterns for many of the dresses depicted. One of the best available monographs on a designer from this time period.
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Format: Hardcover
I unwrapped "Vionnet" and thought I'd give it a quick flip-thru before getting on with my day. I spent the next 6 1/2 hours splayed out on the living room floor with this book. (I'll leave erudition to the other reviewers...) It is simply magnificent.
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Format: Hardcover
I found this book to be very well presented and a thoroughly enjoyable read. I am merely a fashion enthusiast but I really saw value to this book on many different levels. Engineering friends of mine (male) have picked up this book and devoured the way the patterns were constructed and how a particular garment was made. it really does make the non-believer appreciate the skill of Madeleine Vionnet and takes a little of the mystery out of the bias cut.
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Format: Hardcover
I have always admired photos of Vionnet's gowns. Not until I read this book did I have the slightest inkling of the genius in her work. She was truly an architect of clothing for the body. The book shows photos of each garment accompanied by pattern illustrations to show how the garment was constructed. Pure amazement. A wonderful book to give to anyone working with fabric, from fiber artists to homemakers.
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