Vionnet by Hussein Chalayan | SS 2014 Haute Couture Collection


It’s a pitty to go against nature” once said Madeleine Vionnet.

Since the acquisition of the label by Goga Ashkenazi from Marzotto and Castiglioni, the label has experimented with a variety of styles, looks and attitudes -not to mention dealing with a 48 hour deadline for the Fall 2013 couture show. After an enthusiastic approach by Goga for the legendary brand, her creative direction has been heavily -yet diplomatically- questioned by elitists and editors. What seemed to be Goga’s long desire to create fashion after an incredible trajectory and expertise in the business sector, to others it seems to be just a stint in design for someone with a lot of enthusiasm, ambition, influence and ‘big pockets’.

Perhaps, here comes in the personal approach to such and impersonal business of ‘personality’: I beg to differ. Compromising creatively with the upper executives may not be the easiest task to accomplish and may seem to hold a heavy creative toll on the team as it conceptualizes, creates and executes the creative process of a collection; it has been obviously noted in a prominent label or two. It takes time and experimentation to rebuild something that was in a long hiatus, whether or not you are the top executive as well. As a favorite, Goga’s 2014 Pre-fall collection appealed with a very consistent, eloquent and cohesive experimental twist to modernizing a once defunct label known for aggressively pioneering.

However, for the Couture calendars, it was announced early in the new year that Hussein Chalayan was going to create the demi-couture collection. A bold move, nonetheless, to have one of the most contemporary avant garde designers reinterpret Madeleine Vionnet’s legacy, especially when Goga was getting a better notion of the creative design process. But, after all, in the words of Madeleine Vionnet herself: “It’s a pitty to go against nature”, where change is part of the nature of the industry. The options as for which direction Hussein Chalayan would go after, were polar. Knowing the likes and style of Hussein Chalayan, it was almost inevitable that he would choose to reinterpret everything differently to the heritage of Vionnet. To many, that’s exactly what was done.

Not literally reviving the brand as if it were a deal to replicate the old Vionnet, for it probably would have been a rather awkward clash of aesthetics, Hussein’s industrial design inspiration was not that far off the brand’s heritage. Signature plissés were skilfully and artistically reinterpreted to showcase one side print and/or the other a combination of other prints. Layers of bias-cut organzas united by minimal seam work and concentric laser cut circles and bold industrial and technology accessories proved the signature spirt of the brand and the signature style of its director. It wasn’t the image of Vionnet you were probably expecting.

However, the parallelism of the way Hussein Chalayan dealt with Vionnet is to the one Madeleine herself approached in her time. Pushing the boundaries and setting forth a new foundation of technical mastery of fabrics through modernizing a style of womenswear was just what Madelein Vionnet would have continued to do. It was the Vionnet spirt in the past injected to the future. Where many would probably not even dare to try to understand, it was a statement collection with hopes of a new approach to couture.