cover image Madeleine Vionnet

Madeleine Vionnet

Rizzoli, Jacqueline Demornex. Rizzoli International Publications, $150 (305pp) ISBN 978-0-8478-1387-2

Beginning as a seamstress's apprentice at age 12, Madeleine Vionnet (1876-1975) would help define Parisian fashion in the 1920s and '30s. Her simple yet elegant dresses were multidimensional structures that moved and flowed. Sensuous silks, Greek-inspired styles and diaphanous evening wear won a loyal following and attracted such clients as Marlene Dietrich and the duchess of Windsor. Lavishly illustrated with 350 photographs and drawings (100 in color), this affectionate tribute by fashion journalist Demornex ( Balenciaga ) falls short as biography but infectiously conveys what is original and enduring in Vionnet's much-imitated style. In a graceful prefatory essay Chapsal, the designer's goddaughter, portrays her as a loving disciplinarian and a feminist in spirit. (Sept.)