Drawing of a ‘modèle de robe longue’ (detail), 1938-39, Madeleine Vionnet, Les Arts Décoratifs, In Copyright

Madeleine Vionnet established her Maison in Paris in 1912. The clothing Madame Vionnet made attracted the attention of many for their apparently simple and natural design: the way she used fabrics, especially experiencing with the so-called bias-cut, caused dresses to cling to the body and gently fall caressing the feminine curves, epitomizing the style of the 1930s.

 

She also started a campaign for the protection of couture designs, setting a primate for fellow couturiers to follow - to prevent copyists from plagiarising her work. Plagiarism, was, in fact, a practice that had long affected high fashion. Copyists were appointed by manufacturers and department stores to visit couture fashion shows to sketch the garments in order to have the instruction to remake them, as the American copyist-turned-fashion designer and writer Elizabeth Hawes explained in her book 'Fashion is Spinach'.

Drawing of a ‘modèle de robe longue’, 1938-39, Madeleine Vionnet, Les Arts Décoratifs, In Copyright
Drawing of a ‘modèle de robe longue’, 1938-39, Madeleine Vionnet, Les Arts Décoratifs, In Copyright

In her quest against plagiarism, Madeleine Vionnet had previously founded the Association for the Defence of Fine and Applied Arts in 1921. However, she eventually started to document her creations by photographing them from the front, back and sides and then decided to stamp on each label her irreproducible and unique fingerprint. As well as protecting her creativity, by marking the clothes in this way she put her own identity as a guarantee of their authenticity. At last, her labels served as a clue in a crime scene, they reconducted her mindful creations to her hands.

Fringed short evening dress, 1925, Madeleine Vionnet, Les Arts Décoratifs, In Copyright
Fringed short evening dress, 1925, Madeleine Vionnet, Les Arts Décoratifs, In Copyright