Can’t Let Go….

……of this Madeleine Vionnet design, circa 1922. It is 95 years old, and yet so 2017 in it’s modernity, the ombre vibe emanated by the color blocking, and the simple geometric shapes joined in an innovative fashion.  Madeleine Vionnet was known as a master of the bias grain. Yet, this outfit hangs on the straight grain of the fabric, exhibiting Madeline Vionnet’s mastery over innovative dress design.

While I work on the third piece of my Mini Swap (see last two posts), I think you’ll enjoy reading about this almost 100 year old Parisian fashion item which I’m obsessing over.

Vionnet, circa 1922. (courtesy Chronicle Books)

This book on Madeleine Vionnet by Betty Kirke, published by Chronicle Books in 1998, is a treasure trove of design, diagrams detailing how exactly a particular item was constructed.  Thanks to expert analysis and patternmaking on the part of the author, we now have technical drawings in the book, available for whoever wants to recreate this.  Author Betty Kirke created the tech drawings and patterns meticulously.

According to the description, the fabric is silk, and the glimmer you see on the squared out seams is couched gold cord. These two pieces are color blocked in a large rectangle for each, folded horizontally, so there is no side seam on one side but a total opening on the other. There is a slit for the arm on the folded side of the blouse. There’s a small closure at the bottom of the blouse hem on the open side, and an equally small closure at the skirt waist!!  Whoa! Risque for 1922. Maybe pants under the skirt would make it less risky? How about the blouse opening? A camisole is the only thing I can think of.

I’m not sure if including the tech drawings in this post is violating a copyright, so I’ll be on the safe side. If ever I stop obsessing and actually make this outfit, I’ll share it with you.


I scanned my bookshelf quickly and see what else I found! The book “Cubism and Fashion” published by the Met, has the same outfit illustrated by Thayaht in 1923 on the cover.


A bit of background trivia about the title of this post, “Can’t Let Go…”.   During the past few months, I listened faithfully to the NPR Politics podcast where, at the end of the episode, each reporter talked about what he/she could not stop thinking about that particular week, and they called it the “Can’t Let Go” segment.  It was a fun element to the political podcast. I still listen to NPR Politics podcast but the team has changed and they no longer have the end of broadcast conversation about that one obsessive thing.

Click on the diagram and photos to see an enlarged view. Do you have something you can’t let go of?

Get into the spirit of Madeleine Vionnet’s work, and look at Julie Eilber’s  (Jet Set Sewing Blog), Vionnet scarf she made and shared on her blog back in 2013. Go ahead and take a look! It is very cute. Thanks, Julie!


6 thoughts on “Can’t Let Go….

  1. Samina, not only is this gorgeous Vionnet design both ’20s and ultra-modern at the same time, it also has a definite ’70s vibe which is so on point in the fashion world right now. She was one of the premiere innovators of all time in fashion, and her work stands tall even today. Everything she did was so wearable and classic, while being fashion forward.
    What a brain she must have had . . .


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