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INTRODUCTION PART I 11 29 30 35 41 41 43 47 50 52 59 69 71 73


PART II 93 96 100 106 109 116 149 159 181 183





Vionnet is a brand about geometry, architecture, structuralism and three-dimensionality.

It’s about the science that measures Earth, the architectural walls that build men’s daily scenarios, the mathematical logic behind bi-dimensional patterns and the third dimension that confers volume to reality. It is about the natural essence of femininity. This project is about transforming Vionnet in what this brand deserves to be.


“The ultimate goal is to create dresses that combine a harmonious body and a pleasant silhouette, to create beauty�

Madeleine Vionnet




The problem of dealing with Madeleine Vionnet is the fact that she lived throughout a whole century. She experienced on her skin the tight day gowns of the second half of the 19th Century and the first tailors of the end of 1800, the liberating LBD (Little Black Jacket) of the twenties and the Hollywood charme of the thirties and forties. She met bohemians, flappers and Parisian existentialists, what’s more? 1) History review. France. 1850 – 1900 France in the late second half of the century was a mine of fabrics and textures, and Paris was the undisputed capital of fashion. Female dresses were wrapped up around the body of the women, so to show no skin, and were characterized by voluminous skirts embellished in any possible way, from flowers and ruches to crinoline and long tails. Small hats took the place of large brims also to show the hairstyles, created by coiffeurs and embellished by golden powders and dyes. This fashion wasn’t contemplated by working class women that wore much simpler and more sober clothes made with cheaper fabrics. Dames and ladies of the upper class used to show off also to differentiate from the common people. 1870 saw the change of the skirt into the Tulip, a more clean and polished style that lasted for more than thirty years. Skirts fell straight down to the floor, and the back of the waist was underlined by the paniéres and saddles to emphasise the body curves. La fin de siècle style was based around the ancestor of the modern tailor: straight skirt, fitting jacket, and blouse underneath. Little jackets accompanied the assemble and were named in 11

different ways according to the style (Nautical, Ussa ra, androgynous). Corsets reached an almost natural size around 1890s, working as supporting tools: it was considered as a hygienic, practical and elegant item. In these years dressing gowns became fashionable also for receiving visitors up to the late afternoon and before the change for dinner. This new style that was simple and functional at the same time seemed to anticipate the upcoming role of women in the working reality, that, as it is know, would have required a much more practical and easy fashion. 2) Madeleine Vionnet. The beginning Madeleine Vionnet was born in 1876 in the Parisian countryside of Aubervilliers, and she spent her childhood with her father alone because of her mother having left right after her birth to seek for a working career. Madeleine distinguished herself at elementary school as the most brilliant pupil in her class, but at the age of eleven she abandoned her studies and started to work as an apprentice for a local seamstress; the chances to win a superior school scholarship were good, but those of a career after not so many. France was not ready for independent high-educated woman yet. She also abandoned her former dream to become a teacher, and she opted for a more practical job instead, sure that she would have had her chance to succeed as a good seamstress in few years, if working hard. Vionnet’s biggest aim since the very beginning was to be independent, and the only way seemed to be an early start in the working reality of that time “I was born independent; I never could belong to anyone, even a husband. I was married twice and I couldn’t stand it”. A resemblance with her mother easily occurs: Vionnet always stated that she kept on loving her mother and admiring the woman for her courage and ambition. She developed with the time the desire to be “always be the best”, just like her unconventional mother. Vionnet’s father, on the other hand, played the soft half of her parenting unit, supporting his beloved daughter in her choices and encouraging her to pursue her dreams. The transition to the working class occurred in 1888 when she was thirteen. At the time there were

few social laws to protect the workers, especially young, and Madeleine found herself engaged in a twelve hours per day job as seamstress at the dependence of Madame Bourgeuil. Nonetheless, the intensity of the employment was not a problem for Madeleine, and she started to develop a strong work ethic based on the principles of hard work, dedication and the pursuit of excellence. She moved in Paris in 1892 and started to work in Rue Cadet at the House of Vincent, where she became prémiere at the young age of nineteen. She got married in 1893 and had a daughter that unfortunately died soon after her birth. Family life didn’t seem to fit on Vionnet, and she legally divorced in 1898. In the meantime, she busied herself on a trip to London to recover from the loss, and opened a new chapter of her life as a linen maid at Doctor Reid’s in Virginia Waters, a suburb of the capital, in a structure that she eventually found out to be a psychiatric hospital. London was the metropolis for excellence during those years at the end of 19th Century. Particularly, right in the moment Vionnet landed the British capital, an important cultural discussion over womenswear was taking place, conducted by a large group of both artists and doctors. In 1890, the Health and Artistic Dress Union proposed an aesthetic reform that talked about hygienic women clothes, arguing against body constriction such as corsets and tight gowns considered dangerous for the body and related functions. This argument was influenced by the Greek influence of those years. Body and fabric were put together under a new relationship: all these different points of view referred to numerous and different esoteric theories, oriental traditions and an utopian return to ancient Greece classic roots. The result of the sum of all these elements led to a new avant-garde, and, subsequently, to the rise of a new lifestyle not only for women but for men also. She then left her occupation for a better position at the House of Kate Reilly in Dover Street 12, where she used to study all the haute couture models coming from Paris and re-adapting them according to the British taste. This appeared to be her first approach to fashionable dressmaking, 12

embroidery and embellishing techniques, and she started to look at her profession as more like the one of a dressmaker rather than a seamstress; the first considered to be engaged in many more others activities in addiction to the sewing part. She got to understand the relationship between the body and the cloth, and she developed a deep awareness towards the fit. She considered duty of a dressmaker to adorn and enhance the natural harmony of the human body, and the dress as a tool needed to cover and adorn the skin. “The activity of a true dressmaker is to integrate these elements of cloth, body, gravity, and adornment”. She return to Paris in 1900 at the age of twentyfour and with an important career on her young shoulders. 3) History review. 1900 – 1950 The beginning of the new century, called “belle époque”, was characterized in fashion by the S line, a style that recreated simplicity, rationality and an elegant appearance of the female body. The bourgeois had to prove its social status. Nonetheless, wild decoration was still present on evening gowns and afternoon gowns. Art Nouveau jewels that depicted animals and insects were accompanied in the accessory world by little hats and fashionable umbrellas. Lingerie was a loved tool to underline the waist and the female figure. New magazines for ladies were born. 4) Vionnet in 1900 – 1914. The First World War. Time for a change The beginning of the century in Paris had a strong influence over Madeleine Vionnet’s perception of art and fashion. Between 1890 and 1905, the most important leading dress houses in Paris were born (such as Worth, Doucet, Paquin, Callot Soeurs), the Exposition Universelle took place at the feet of the newborn Eiffel Tour in 1900, and the cubist and futurist avant-garde were about to rise. It certainly was the right time to practice her skills in the Ville Lumière. The fourteen years between 1900 and 1914 are those of the apprentice years. Vionnet entered the house of Callot Soeurs (founded while she was in London, 1895), a company previously specialized 13

in embroideries and underwear. She became première for Madame Gerber, the eldest of the two sisters, earning four hundred francs per month, in impressive sum for a première of the time. Her main duty was to balance the visionary mind of Mme Gerber by putting into practice or, better, on paper patterns, the creations of her chief. Mme Gerber was used to shape muslin directly on living models and mannequins, for she had no knowledge or skills in drawing patterns or cutting. Mme Gerber motto met for sure Vionnet’s vision. She used to say that the important thing was to be sure “to put the form of the woman at the centre of her art”.

So, in other words, Madame Gerber was the architect, and Madeleine Vionnet the site manager. The creative and the pragmatic. Body and cloth, again. An important achievement of Vionnet during her years at Callot Soeurs was the reinterpretation of the classic kimono’s sleeve. Animated by the already popular fashion of the gigot sleeves (up to date from 1895), the idea became central for Vionnet, who worked on the concept for many years. Another important lesson learned at Callot Soeurs was taste. Vionnet thought it to be 50% innate and 50% taught, and she always remembered the years of her apprentice as strongly influencing. She moved to Doucet’s fashion house in 1907. Doucet’s company, as Callot Soeurs, started from the lingerie. Monsieur Doucet was an aspiring artist, and he practised the improvisation in design. He used to drape on the body of the clients and he loved the Romantic style of 18th Century. This experience resulted to be for Vionnet an important one in terms of décor. He hired her to rejuvenate his fashion house. During the years at Doucet’s, Vionnet had the chance to bring her motto “the body at the centre” a step further by eliminating the corset from the pieces of underwear. She modernised the trend of the dishabille, a vest that from being a mere item of lingerie had evolved into a fashionable dress suitable for receiving visitors during the afternoon. Vionnet couldn’t understand the use and occasion of the corset that she only saw as an orthopaedic tool. Not being a corset wearer herself, she couldn’t understand the reason to constrain the female body in any way. She was strongly influenced also by Isadora Duncan and Martha Graham, that at the beginning of the 20th Century started to perform 14

bare feet and with Greek inspired light dresses, according to the ancient Greece trend of the first decade of 1900. In this way, it’s evident that the liberation of the body occurred under Vionnet and years before Poiret’s. Perhaps, Vionnet’s revolution came too soon and found hard grounds where to be accepted. Doucet’s clients, vendeuses and models complained about the audacity of Mme Vionnet’s creations. She started to conceive the bias cut during her experience at Doucet. The apprentice years turned out to have been a source of lessons, where she could improve her skills so to reach, years later, her most famous innovation. The idea came from her head, and was not accepted by Doucet. In 1912 Vionnet left and opened her own house in Rue de Rivoli to pursue her visions without a chief to limit her talents any more. The Madeleine Vionnet’s house was opened with 3000 francs, one third coming from the founder herself, and two thirds coming from an investor called Herni Lilaz. Even more than Monsieur Lilaz, is daughter seemed to have been the most significant supporter of Vionnet at the beginning of her career. Women dealing in men’s business. That ended up to be a women mission, and the first index of innovation of Vionnet personality; alongside Vionnet and Lilaz, another lady, former Vionnet’s colleague Marcelle Chapsal, took part to the project. The idea was to talk about a concrete emancipation that didn’t seem to have much to do with the feminist movements and ideologies of the time. Vionnet succeeded to translate into practice a mission dedicated to women and meant for the women and for their use, to enhance the culture, creative capacity and beauty. The freedom in the creation during that time was felt valuable by Vionnet, evolved in the meantime into a designer from her previous occupation as a dressmaker and depending woman. La maison was forced to close in 1914 because of World War I. Many of haute couture houses closed, as Vionnet did. Textile mills in France had been converted to the manufacture of war goods. Vionnet was in her late thirties, and she saw there were years as an invaluable period that served as a gestation period for her greatest innovations. 15

5) History review. 1914 – 1918 World War I made women start working in industries and in all the other section of society previously occupied by men, that were now fighting abroad. Upper class, bourgeois and working class women collaborated to keep the country up during these hard years, and this social democracy was reflected also on clothes. “War was the principal driving force of women progress. The weaker sex succeeded to be strong. And from the houses working women went out […]”. Women had to adopt a new look, that result to be the evolution of the S line and tailleur into a plain and slender figure, later called à la garçonne by Mlle Chanel. Breast and back of the waist were linear, and the waistline went under the hips. Precious fabrics were worn only for special occasions (jersey and gabardine were popular), and the length of skirts changed dramatically and reached the middle calf, showing the feet and part of the leg. The war imposed rigour: frills, lace and jewels left space for geometric lines, dark colours and austerity, both in fashion and in behaviours. Military inspiration effected many fashion pieces of the time such as round cloaks, spencer jackets, hats and headgear, all named after military elements. 6) History review.1st Post War The 1920s modern woman was born after the end of the first, shocking world conflict, ad her image was strongly in conflict with the previous belle époque woman character. The silhouette was ephebic and darting. She was “a woman with lots of legs, irregularity of lineaments, energetic spirit, charme, cigarette’s breath, long hands and pointed feet”. The cult for hygiene, physical exercise and diets began during these years, with the exploitation of massages, hair-removal techniques, injections of fat localized on wrinkles. Daytime, women wore tailleurs (skirt, blouse and jacket), and the best elegance and luxury were saved for the evening events (lame, silks, velvets, with newly bright colours that took distance from war time dark palettes); dresses had deep plunging back and created an impression of bi-dimensionality of the woman through their cuts. The twenties also saw the comeback of the most famous couturiers such as Poiret, Worth, Doucet

and Callot Soeurs. The States looked like the Mecca of youth, dynamism, and technological progress. The jazz, Hollywood cinema (with movies such as Metropolis – 1927), the Charleston and Op-set and Josephine Baker; the novel of Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway, the influence over the world of art of Gertrude Stein and Picasso, the artistic avant-garde. In Paris, two flows of creation were unofficially constituted: on one side, the new androgynous school, on the other the old school of femininity and voluptuousness. Coco Chanel was enough smart to understand the importance of taking inspiration from both sides, so to reach a wider target of clients. Moreover, if considered, the two schools were promoting nothing but two faces of the same woman. Nevertheless, Chanel became known to history for being the standard bearer of the garçonne look, that was read as the exorcism of the belle époque woman’s subjugated past. The garçonne look didn’t mean only to look like teen-age boys and wear shorter skirts; it also meant the practice of a long series of behaviours and actions. Furthermore, in these years, fashion became really democratic, arriving also at the lowest classes in society; in the twenties we see the birth of the first so-called industrial fashion, used also by the more conservative fashion houses in order to fight the commercialization of the clothes. A freedom of consume was eventually born. The thirties were characterized by a violent use of make up, hair dyes and the cult for health, especially in those countries dominated by totalitarian dictatorships. Daytime was worn the same way as during the twenties; only difference a more fitting silhouette. The evening saw the comeback of corsets, sumptuous fabrics for an over the top and luxurious look, characterized by statuesque and seducing body lines in strong contrast with the precedent decade garçonne look, that was considered as a threaten for the virtuous fascist woman (ancient Rome cult during Fascism). The decade most significant innovation in fashion was the invention of synthetic/artificial fabrics such as rayon, that replaced silk, and lanital, that replaced wool. Women started to wear trousers and pants in occasion of physical activities, bikinis on the 16


7) Vionnet in 1918 – 1939. L’Age d’Or (Gold Section) After the war came a new kind of frivolity; dancing to jazz rhythms at night and participating in sports such as tennis and bicycling during the day made women physically active. The dresses they now demanded were simple and functional- physically non-restrictive. The map of Europe had also changed. Old empires were divided, and new boundaries had formed new countries, bringing new significant political and sociological changes. There were new thoughts in philosophy and economics. Once back to work in the last years of 1910s, the scenario and its relating needs were changed. Women needed new dresses, they had a new role in society themselves, and they were now working women. The new required fashion had then to be simple and functional. Luxuria was not an option any more, and the only way to take the path of modernity was to go back to the ancient, to classicism. The Mediterranean clothing became the ideal style to fulfil the necessity of both elegant and practical womenswear. The focus became the jazz music, sports, and physical activities. Other poles of interest became the new philosophies, technology, science and medicine discoveries, and economic studies. The world had changed all in a sudden during the traumatic years of the first global conflict. In the fashion industry, a significant revolution occurred to be the evolution of the yarn dye technique into the piece dye technique; the crepe was introduced in the field, a new fabric made from twisted yarns that replaced the stiffness of silks: it was also useful for the bias cut. The new increase in twisting permitted a variety of yarns and weaves, resulting in a soft, crinkled fabric with much greater elasticity. The use of crepes for bias cut in garments. The value of these characteristics was immeasurable to Vionnet. A new idea of beauty made its way inside the modern roaring society: squared lines, less frills. Technical and essential, as if to remember the war years, and the necessity to spare the unnecessary. Vionnet chose not to follow the flow but to interpret the wave on her own terms: she started

creating dresses underlining the natural harmony of the body; sophisticated embroidery effects; fish-bone fringes; bias cuts softer and less rigid; overlappings, asymmetries, inlay works translated into a sartorial logic that was different and original. The art world saw the rise of the cubist avant-garde of Picasso and Braque that exposed in the 1912 Section d’Or. Proportion, harmony and perfection were the concepts at the base of the movement: no wonder Vionnet found herself captured by it. Picasso also collaborated with Sergei Dihagilev’s Ballet Russes in 1917 for a piece called “Parade” written by Jean Cocteau, featuring music by Erik Satie. The twenties were a fertile territory for every field related to creativity: fashion, art, music, painting, and artists belonging to extremely different circles seemed likely happy and enthusiast to collaborate in order to create something new and innovative. Everyone was searching for the ultimate rational order, studying the harmonic rapport between man and nature. Even the famous Le Corbusier’s Modulor talked about the same topic: modulo (mathematics - man) and section d’or (art – nature) gathered in a new term that became dear to Vionnet. Clothes were dynamics deriving from human body. Vionnet had her vision of fashion. Often called the “Euclid of Fashion”, Vionnet had a mind that was logical, a thought process that was architectural, and a cutting technique that was mathematical; the geometrician working on mathematical figures and principles, Vogue reported in 1926. Ancient Greece came back as main inspiration for many artists. Vionnet focused her attention on antique vases for their 3D and negative/positive element, and the modules and lines composing them. A vase looked like the surface of a dress to her. She studied in deep two basic forms of dresses from which all classical Greek styles derived: the kiton (the dress) and the klamis (the cloak). Both of these two elements were based on the shape of the rectangle, peplum included, that is itself nothing more that one variation of the kiton. Ancient Greece meant geometry, and accurate studies on mathematical theories. Vionnet was 18

mainly interested in the dynamic and static symmetries. Dressmaking was becoming more and more an architectural procedure. She organized detailed studies before every creation she made: her small-scale mannequins were the three-dimensional bodies on which she practised. Moreover, the dolls were artist mannequins, not seamstress’s. Art and body at the centre, once again, like if she was eager to fulfil a new Humanism inside her studio, freeing the body and cloth, working on nature and technology simultaneously. She experimented on triangles, quadrangles and rectangles, quadrants and spirals (her famous fabric roses): every dress was the result of a decomposition- composition of geometrical figures, made without considering all the traditional sartorial elements. Even the bias, in the word itself, meant to go against the grain of the cloth, contrasting it. She also focused on the Euclide’s elements and the Golden Section. Vionnet’s fashion (and life) approach to appearance was without any doubt different, since she was more interested in the substance and structure rather than in the style. The result had always to be something new and original, so that taste and technology changed constantly on the dresses. She was making clothes not for fashion, “she only liked that which lasted forever”. The proportion and the deep study of the pattern had to come before anything else. Vionnet used to think that assembling taste and technology together they would have gone beyond tradition, and, in some cases, change tradition. When the house reopened on 1918, Vionnet was in charge of a very large number of employees. The dressmaking had become an industry characterized by a dualistic nature of an irrational creative flow and a rational economic spirit. She hired a woman called Marie Louise Favot, since then remembered as Yo, that entered the creative team of Vionnet as sketch designer. In the hierarchical structure, Vionnet was the head creative, Yo the designer, Marcelle Chaumont the premiere and Ernest Michahelles (aka Thayaht) the external-internal consultant. By 1937 the bases of Vionnet’s dressmaking were four: proportion, movement, balance, truth. She also was now used to work on a lowered waist, according to the dynamic symmetry and the golden section. Human body was considered as a sum of geometrical shapes and the fabric as a clay vase that could be 19

moulded. Vionnet’s personal clay vases were her small-scale 60 cm mannequins, where she used to create the prototype of every dress by draping the muslin on the little dolls. Vionnet and CIE was born in 1922 with the help of Galeries la Fayette’s director Theophile Bader. The headquarters moved from Rue de Rivoli to 50 Avenue Montaigne in 1923. The new location was a harmonious space and was classically inspired, but modern and functional at the same time. A soaring Art Deco show place with Lalique glass and Georges de Feure’s Greek-inspired frescoes depicted the woman-as-warrior. Inside the building there were twenty ateliers specialized in different skills, and one thousand employees. Fitting rooms were cubic and were created by hanged draperies. Vionnet’s studio, where she spent most of her time working in isolation on her mannequins, was completely absent of decoration. It had sand coloured carpets, Japanese woodcut, and neutral fabrics on the walls. It was stuffed with books and papers all over. The fashion created by the new company was better welcomed in the French market rather than in the American, that was not probably ready for the switch of haute couture into prêt a porter. The latter was not working: Vionnet opened a second boutique in the American Biarritz, but the try didn’t record any success. The Madeleine Vionnet INC (evolution of the previous company) was born a little after the Biarritz experiment, as the brilliant conceptual project called “one size fits all”, where Vionnet came out with the idea of a single sized fashion production (predicting the future, undoubtedly). In 1922 Vionnet and her business partners set impositions over copyrights that covered every single dress created inside the maison. This action led to the founding of l’Association de protection del industries artistiques saisonnieres (Association pour la Défense des Arts Plastiques et Appliqués, fashion’s first antipiracy organization), an institution that later was absorbed by the Chambre de la couture parisienne. Since this moment, the fashion house started to record every item filing it inside one of the biggest archive of the fashion industry ever existed. 1924 saw the realization of a big project, the new boutique in New York Fifth Avenue. It is interesting to see that the core of Vionnet business always stayed in the dresses, and it didn’t expand into commercial merchandise like that of other famous couturiers of the time. The only other product was the 1925 perfume, but it never went out public: it was available inside the

boutique, but only under specific request. Raoul Dufy, member of Vionnet’s team, describe the designer as intimidating, a woman used to control every detail, superior to complaints. She was the hardest worker in the fashion house. She was Fashion. She was extraneous to public life, and she never did anything special to be up to date herself. She used to work inside her studio all day like one of her employed seamstress “My studio had three doors, which were always closed. No one was allowed to enter. I was free and calm”. She used to be busy in the same way of all the other workers and without drawing a thick line to separate her from the rest of the working crowd inside the company. In her working, she looked as an artist that follows and tries to accomplish his creative process and aesthetic goal, until the realisation of perfection. Vionnet was the first woman in chief to give paid vacations and coffee breaks to her employees; she set maternity details and benefits for women. The new headquarters also had a canteen, nursery, infirmary and a dentist studio. Moreover, from 1927 onwards the maison set continuing education courses focused mainly on the bias cut technique for the seamstresses. During the 1929 crisis she was a steady point of reference for everybody in the company. She was, furthermore, proud to be the Patron of her employees. She believed in being natural: for this reason, she never dyed her hair that she kept grey. She didn’t use corsets and she loved to feel comfortable and healthy before anything else. The same principles were applied on the clients of the maison. She had no care for only thin clients: on the contrary, she loved to dress every woman, tall, short, fat or thin, always working on proportions and enhancing the potential of the bodies. She seemed to be interested in dressing society ladies in particular.

regimes had their influence over society and costumes and fashion, promoting a rigorous lifestyle and values linked to Ancient Rome (Fascism). In fashion, mannequins evolved from small and masculine tiny girls into Juno-esque tall women that embodied the power, strength and health of ancient goddesses, empresses and queens. According to Vionnet, the moment suggested a style that was ideal to underline the body shapes and enhance the female figure (Greek himation). The appearance of the dress didn’t have to look overdone and too built up. Vionnet’s creations of the time are still indescribable if using the common fashion vocabulary, because of the many innovations the brought and embodied and the classic and timeless style they showed. Vionnet’s style was in constant evolution: at a certain point she seemed to be abandoning the geometrical forms taking the direction of twist effects more complex than her usual techniques. She also kept on taking ahead her studies on the cut. The wide skirt (1934) represents one of the many innovations of Madeleine Vionnet in the thirties. It was inspired by the 19th Century Romanticism. The mid thirties were characterized by the birth of new symbols of the maison, such as new and innovative fabrics, cutting edge dyeing techniques and cutting methods. An example can be the many different uses of the velvet that the designer came up with in her construction of dresses that was conceived to be stretch and body fitting and hugging. Other models of the same style were realized also with different fabrics recreating the effect of the ribbed ancient Greek columns (pictures). 1939’s collection was the last of Madeleine Vionnet INC. She decided to retire at the apex of success.

The thirties looked at youth and elegance under a distinct point of view. A new sense of luxury and youth culture rose in the most epic and glorious years of Hollywood glamorous divas. In the arts, the neoclassicism had its peak with artists like Picasso, Stravinskij, De Chirico with his metaphysic paintings, Leni Rifenstahl. Totalitarian 20

8) Thayaht and Vionnet Ernesto Michahelles knows as Thayaht was born in Florence, 1893, from Anglo- American mother and German- Switz father. His great grand father was famous American sculptor Hiram Powers. At age twenty he spoke fluently already three languages and showed a wide interest for every kind of art expression, developing a democratic approach to the world of the arts. As point of reference the Arts and Crafts of London, he decided that he needed a praxis and a doctrine to shape even better his extraordinary skills. He studied from Italian, British and American classic art theory books, developing an eclectic point of view built upon a wide and deep technical research that eventually allowed him to move easily from sculpture, painting, illustration, and fashion creation. He moved to Paris in the late 1919, spending time in refined international environments and meeting important artists of the time such as Umberto Brunelleschi, Léonce Rosenberg and Carle Dreyfus, director of the department of decorative arts at the Louvre. Ernesto found out that, more than studying inside art academies, the best school to learn how to be an artist seemed to be the streets of Paris. According to private letters of the time, he started his collaboration with the maison Vionnet at the end of November of 1919, few months after he arrived in the capital. He met Louis Dangel, administrative director of the company, and little after he received his first official order: ten dresses, two reclames and prints in xilographies. In a short time he started a profitable working relationship with Vionnet, and he established a group of collaborators even in the native Florence, between family and friends entitled to cut and sew. He was totally free in his creation processes, and only at en editing point Madame Vionnet would have correct details to ease the merchandising expectations. He was mainly inspired by geometrical studies such as Jay Hembidge’s dynamic and static symmetry, Luca Pacioli’s De Divina Proportione, Claude Bragdon’s proportional studies, Japanese and far 25

East culture, and the new Cubist movement (Paris 1912 – Section d’Or exposition); by Antoni Gaudì curve catenarie (also depicted in the first 1919 Vionnet’s logo), Art Nouveau and the illustrations of Toulouse Lautrec; by ancient Greece and the marine biology studies of Walter Crane. In 1921 he studied in Harvard with professor Denman Waldo Ross on the theoretical abstract design to deepen his knowledge on the elements of composition. He worked as a proto-designer: he looked at the project as the sum of many elements matching as in a puzzle one with the other (logo, graphics, sketches). He worked simultaneously on the creation of dresses, graphic designs, and other artistic developments for the brand of Vionnet. August 9th, 1920, he registered as trademark his nom de plume Thayaht, palindrome name that referred to a spiritual elevation through art. The central “Y” alluded to the Yin and Yang Chinese Monad, whilst the two “T” to the ancient Greek letter Tau (also to the Chinese Tao), citing the centrality of the universe. His first exclusive contract with Vionnet was in October 1922, and his style and designs became the symbol of the maison for all the creations dated early 1920s. The most famous dresses he designed in those years are “l’Orage” (1922), la “Robe Paisage” and the female Tuta (in English: tracksuit). He also experimented with putting together in proportion technique and décor in the “Henriette” dress in 1923. He developed great interest for vary printing techniques, from the batik, direct print, Japanese Shibori method, and studied for many years the science of colour composition (“to use not more than three or four colours in each design. We must copy from leaves, insects or broken stones”). He collaborated with Lelio Salmoiraghi and Bianchini Férier (who already worked with Paul Poiret) for prints. He also worked as interior design for all the Vionnet’s boutiques, becoming a sort of protoart director (over than a proto- designer). He also designed all the objects that figured in the window,

such as boxes, buckles, glove compartments). Visual merchandiser too? He figured as one of the most brilliant minds of Italian futurism in the 1920s, working on fashion, design and art in general, working alongside other important artists of the time. He believed that every object created had to possess the virtue of functionality, for it interacts directly with the man and the nature all around. He was also devoted to the research of a functional beauty, and in this way he was inspired by the work of Gio Ponti, Pietro Bottoni and Carlo A. Felice. In his fashion career once back in Italy, during the Fascist Regime, he conceived a fashion that was built, following his main source of inspiration, on geometry and architecture, taking the concept of tabula rasa and starting all over again from the naked human body (Humanism pt. 2), the perfect canon in it’s a-temporal universality. He thought of a fashion that was free, democratic, and functional: key words of this new style were simple lines, colour and functionality, spirals, plasticism, and dynamic geometry. At the end of the 1920s he took part to the project of a rising national- Italian fashion industry and, unlike his fellow Futuristi friends, he worked directly on the field and on many different areas of production. In this period, his name is mostly remembered for the re-launch of the straw hat and the straw industry in Italy, and for marketing strategies applied in advertisements, slogans and illustrations.


9) Conflict Resolution Map I



The company logo of Vionnet was designed by Thayaht at the end of 1919. The first version was a layering of medallions, stylised human figures, floating veils and the catenaria curve. It reminded the yin and yan concept (Chinese monad), the Japanese Mon. The entire human and drape figures were realized with the riserva technique, while the medallions were set on a campo pieno background, coloured purple. The final logo, elaborated on the base of the first one depicted above, was represented as a medallion (the centre of a mirror with the handle made as a Ionic column, symbol of classical antiquity; the concept behind this choice is to represent fashion as a mirror of vanity, and the handle talks about the return to an ancient rigour), a drapery that alludes to the capital first letter of Madeleine (or, with more fantasy, to the Y of Thayaht). The chosen font in the logo was changed into the communication strategy. It is also present in the external main entrance of second Vionnet headquarters in Avenue Montaigne. The logo had a construction scheme conceived not be changed in the basic proportional asset; for reasons linked to its symbolic geometric validity and for practical reasons dealing with typographic costs. Nevertheless, some elements could be changed according to the use made of the logo. 29

The graphic study of the logo refers also to some sketches of Yo, then transformed by Vionnet into real dresses. These gowns interpret in their cuts the semicircular panels of degrading width, the shapes of the cloth and of the stylised friezes of the Thayahtian logotype. The logo is an organized geometric grill. Thayaht used the proportion system based on the Golden Section (system that is applied both to the whole ensemble of the composition [high-width], and on the relation between individual parts inside the drawing). Moreover, Thayaht employed the Vitruvius Ratio (where the head is repeated eight times) for the human figure positioned at the centre of the logo, that speaks about the nature composing the human individual. He also looked at the studies of Claude Bragdon. Thayaht’s planned the rational construction of the real through application of geometry and mathematics, two sciences serving as inevitable point of reference to elaborate his personal formal grammar both in decoration and composition processes (system already used by Policleto, Vitruvius, Luca Pacioli, Da Vinci, Michelangelo before, and by Jay Hembidge, Claude Bragdon and Richard Redgrave later). Thayaht examined also in depth all the recent studies of Luca Pacioli on the Divina Proporzione, that aimed to reveal the secret geometry of all the things, that in theory

would strengthen the thesis talking about the mistic- symbolic meaning of the relation between the human figure and the geometries of circle, triangle, elements of the dynamic symmetry (in other words, put together Hambidge and Bradgon ideas). Inspiration for the logo came mainly from the Japanese aesthetic that in 19th century opened the doors for the Modernism art movement (lines with rhythmical relations). Also coming from Japan, the Mon, Tsuba and Katagami strongly influenced the artist, being part of the cultural and artistic tradition of the Far East country. These designs have been target of interest of researchers of industrial and artisan design all over the world since 1800. Thayaht work on the logo of the maison is nothing but a declaration of intents towards a precise philosophy and a sartorial style. A stylised logo was printed on the packaging papers and in the shipment boxes, characterized by all over prints of the logo that always respected precise proportional rhythms.


Vionnet identity is a delicate balance between extremes. If on one side there is the contrast between the strength of the Bias cut and fluidity, on the other axis it is evident the juxtaposition of Geometry and 3D. The Bias is without any doubt the most important virtue of the brand of Vionnet, as much as the concept was for the woman that founded la maison in 1923. Not only as a geometrical concept, the Bias stands most of all for its character of rebellion, its going against through a decided diagonal that connects extremes far from side to side and covering wide fields of interest at the same time, those that are placed in the middle between the poles that the segment covers. Madeleine Vionnet reinterpreted the bias cut from the influence received by the Ancient Greece trend that spread during the first two decades of the 20th Century. This original cut, whose effect of fall towards the ground conferred a fluid movement to the cloth, delicacy and femininity to the look, became even more complex under Vionnet for the

theories of cut that she developed. Her studies among geometrical figures and ratio led to dresses that were extremely modern in their look, elegant and not redundant as the heavy style of la Belle époque. Bias: geometry and a personality shade. Fluidity, by its side, is more connected to the nature concept behind the brand. Vionnet conceived the body of the woman as the center of her creation process, and she used to drape directly on small scale dolls so not to lose the right perception towards the dress. Furthermore, she always kept a certain minimalistic and soft style on her dresses, but she never renounced to flower ornaments, petals and feathers details. The strongest connection with nature, nonetheless, was the one between herself and the time passing: she never dyed her hair or constricted her body into corsets or such orthopaedic tools (as she called them). In fact, it is important to remember that probably the first liberation of the female body from the popular corset occurred under Madeleine Vionnet at the end of the 19th Century, many years before Paul Poiret’s 1909 with his famous oriental style. So, to summarize, nature is expressed in Vionnet through the cult of the female body and the elimination of any kind of physical restriction. The second couple of contrasts is characterized by Geometry and the 3D. Geometry, the science that studies the world and nature through numbers, ratios and mathematics, is expressed in a two-dimensional flatness that in fashion finds its analogy in the paper patter or the designer sketch. The 3D, the third dimension, is nothing but the evolution of the previous discipline: from geometry to architecture, from the creati ve director’s drawing to the wearable dress; from geometrical paper plans to inhabitable houses, from Paul Poiret colour sketches to Vionnet’s small scale dolls for the draping process. The Geometry of the avant-garde artistic movements of the beginning of the 20th Century (Cubism and Futurism) and the 3Dimensionality of the innovation of the future. Vionnet’s style was characterized by contrasting dualities such as symmetry and emancipation, construction and freedom: all these concepts can also be applied to the great dressmaker herself, because every movement of her career reflected her vision as a woman. Inscrutability as the chief of the building site and an easiness proper of a motherly woman. This is the balance that led Vionnet to become one of the most influential fashion personalities in the history of the field. 30



Euclid, philosopher and mathematician during the reign of Ptolemy, is considered the father of Geometry, and his famous opera, “Elements”, is considered to be one of the most important study ever conducted in the history of mathematics, and is still taught in school and universities nowadays. In ancient Greece, the philosopher was an important social figure engaged both to scientific and logical subjects (such as mathematics, geometry, fisics) and to natural studies (botanic, geology, astronomy, biology and chemistry). For this reason, it wasn’t difficult to connect the personality of the philosopher to Madame Vionnet, renamed the Euclid of Fashion, or, the Geometer of Fashion. Vionnet was dominated by two extreme influences: on one side logic and numbers, on the other nature and fluidity. When working on the patterns of her creations she relied to geometric studies, ratios of mathematics and proportional rapports, but once she turned to the decoration and ornaments it was common to see her dealing with flowers, shells, leaves, and many other figures belonging to the natural world. One of her main source of inspiration were the ancient Greek garments, the kiton (the dress) and the klamis (the cloack), both based on the shape of the rectangle. Her goal was to create perfect and everlasting dresses, she wanted to make clothes not for fashion, and she only liked what could last forever. She was more interested in structure rather than style, but at the end of the sawing procedure she never failed to give an excellently elegant and modern look to the dress through her knowledge on ornaments and embroidery. The Logic: The Bias, the famous cut that Vionnet revived from the ancient Greece tradition, was studied by Euclid in his geometrical the orems. Vionnet worked with the bias cut to create a soft but still structured construction of the early 20th Century dress: beyond mathematical laws, numbers and measurement, the dress resulted to 35

be the composition of floating veils, feminine allure and the sense to be back in the ancient Greece, still living in the modern metropolis of Paris. The bias cut used the third direction of the cloth, surpassing the common practice to cut only in length and cross wise. The bias can be considered to be air space, since the result of the cut doesn’t have any support from the canvas structure: it was only supported by warp and weft yarns, but with the gravity force the ultimate effect was distortion. The bias cut could be applied on rectangles, triangles, quadrants, and squares. The bias cut wasn’t only a mere cutting technique. If related to Vionnet, it becomes a metaphor that talk about the strong personality of its creator: Vionnet used to face life and work through a bias approach. Every step of her life was a bias, a going against the rules and common believes and dogmas. She decided not to have either a husband or a family (bias I); she was the first dressmaker that eliminated the corset in the very first years on 1900 (bias II); she managed to open her own fashion house with the help of only women, an unusual case for that time (bias III); she used to create the dress on small scale mannequins (bias IV), choosing to start from the final result rather than following the standard procedure. The list of Vionnet’s bias could go on forever. She went against the grain both in cutting and real life. Along side Euclid geometry, she also focused on theory like the dynamic and static symmetry by Jay Hembidge and golden ratio. The Dynamic Symmetry is the natural design methodology based on Nature’s growth spiral. Hambidge took the expression ‘dynamic symmetry’ from the Plato’s writings, and one of his information sources on classical proportion was the first-century BC architect and scholar, Vitruvius. The term ‘dynamic’ regards growth energy, and the term ‘symmetry’ regards its older definition of commensurability. The pine cone and sunflower are ideal natural models to study the basis of dynamic symmetry. Static symmetry, on the opposite is about geometrical figures such as equilateral triangles, squares, rectangles, present in nature in crystal forms, pods and flowers. The golden ratio (also called “the golden section”) is a geometric concept that has been studied

and used by many scientists and artists across the history, from Euclid (that talks about the ratio in the “Elements”), Pythagora, Michelangelo, to Leonardo da Vinci, Keplero and Fibonacci. The modern history of the golden ratio starts with the opera De Divina Proportione of Luca Pacioli, who developed his studies along side Da Vinci between 1496 and 1498. The term golden ratio is used to describe aesthetically pleasing proportion within a piece (Vionnet used the shell). However, it is not merely a term, but it is an actual ratio. Rectangles and squares are the clearest example, but the Golden Ratio can be applied to any number of geometric forms including circles, triangles, pyramids, prisms, and polygons. It’s just a question of applying the correct terms.

her most famous creations are characterized by flower and natural ornaments, as if the philosophy of the dressmaker was imprinted on the cloth. Nature for Vionnet was that creativity related to the choice of colours (sandy, browns, earth browns, beige and greys) (“I am more of a sculptor than a painter — more sensitive to form than colour,” although she could make a rich, billiard-table-green velvet gown or a rust-red fringed dress), textures and ornaments, even if, for the latter, she used to say “I only like decoration if it plays second to the architecture of a dress”. Nature to Vionnet was beauty, and taste, this second considered by her as “the feeling that permits to one to tell the difference between what is beautiful and what is merely spectacular”. Starting from geometrical studies, every elements of nature could be translated into a beautifully cut piece of cloth.

All maths aside, it was figured out millennia ago that in a work of art or architecture, if one maintained a ratio of small elements to larger elements that was the same as the ratio of larger elements to the whole, the end result was extraordinarily pleasing to the eye. Futurism and cubism (Thayaht, Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, Umberto Boccioni, Carlo Carrà, Giacomo Balla – Paul Cézanne, Picasso, Braque, Robert Delaunay, Marcel Duchamp, Francis Picabia), were another great source of inspiration, with their idea of depicting the nature and every thing belonging to the everyday life into geometry, lines and proportions. The Nature: Vionnet believed in being natural, and never went against nature herself. She left her hair grey without dyeing them, and she never used the corset, that she considered as a simple orthopaedic tool. She believed in enhancing the natural beauty of every woman, and she never dressed only tall and thin clients just to have a better result with her creations. Proportion, for Vionnet, came before anything else, and anything could be achieved if working with the right vision of the human body. She made of her career a sort of second Humanism, where the body was at the centre of everything: the client’s body, the mannequins she used for draping, her body set free from torture cages called corsets. Most of 36




1) Client: Vionnet former client could be recognized as an eclectic aristocratic woman, enjoying the spirit of the golden years of the 1920s and diving into the cultural movement of the cubist avant-garde. Flappers but also aristocratic ladies from the upper classes loved the modern and innovative style of the French dressmaker, that, on her side, loved to dress women by enhancing their natural beauty and female figures. 2) Occasion and Use: she wore Vionnet for special occasions and extravagant parties, gala and elegant nights out; the chicness and minimalism and luxury of Vionnet dresses became in those years the symbols of the elegant night-life of Paris and international capitals. 3) Technology: the maison developed precise creative techniques, focusing on innovative and structured cuts and patterns. The bias cut is undoubtedly the most famous feature of Vionnet style; the effect this cut gave to the cloth when hanged resulted to be fluid and perfect to embrace the body. The bias cut was mainly used on triangle and square patterns, so to have a stronger impact on the natural fall of the fabric toward the ground. Geometry was anyway at the center of Vionnet’s conception of the dressmaking. She built dresses on the basis of geometrical and algorithmic theories, and the result was the creation of structured dresses and gowns still hugging female forms.

The small scale mannequins also were symbol of the architectural approach of the couturier. They were not bi-dimensional sketches, but they were concreting the three-dimensional representation of the ideas of the dressmaker. Madeleine Vionnet was already one step ahead already in 1920s because she understood the importance to evolve from the flat image into the volumetric sample. From 2D geometrical images she went forward to the 3D architectural embodiment. The dolls became totemic icons in the real sense of the terms, because they became symbols of the maison Vionnet (one of the most popular photographs of Madeleine Vionnet pictures her while draping on one of her small mannequins). They represented the women Vionnet dedicated her creations to, the naturalness and spontaneousness of female body; the were the vehicles that geometry and architecture had to use in order to express themselves. In other words, they were at the center of the conceptual, creative and practical process. Madeleine Vionnet saw herself and her clients in the dolls, and it is for these reason, her care and love for women that had to come first before anything else, that her creations are up to date still today.

TOTEMIC ICONS Mme Vionnet became famous for her draping on small scale mannequins (18cm); in this way, each model was working as a totem object, later real icon for the maison, a tool that Vionnet used to study the body shape, the effect of the cloth on the body, cuts and proportions. Vionnet’s dolls became the mean to fulfil her dream of a second Humanism: one body at the centre, fashion creation not constricting but adapting to the natural forms and curves. 41


1) Relaunched Vionnet The new chapter of Vionnet Fashion house began in 1988, when French businessman Guy de Lummen purchased the brand. He licensed the Vionnet name for fragrances, silk scarves, and handbags. In 1996 Madeleine Vionnet fragrance was introduced, and the launch of the perfume occurred in 1998. Today it is still possible to buy this fragrance through the Internet, but these web sellers have dubious reputation. New Vionnet offices opened in Place Vendôme, Paris, in 2000. Vionnet’s president, Guy de Lummen, said that the new Vionnet collection would have been “young and contemporary, faithful to Madeleine Vionnet’s avant-garde spirit, but not retrospective”. Here it can be observed that the plan was rather ambitious. In 2002 Italian designer Maurizio Pecoraro tapped to revive the label. However to bring it to life was not so easy and the company faced more than some little problems. In 2003, the relaunch of the brand was postponed due to the war in Iraq. In 2006 Guy de Lummen’s son Arnaud de Lummen laid plans to revive the fashion division. In July, the Greek-born designer and London’s Central Saint Martins graduate Sophia Kokosalaki tapped to create a ready-to-wear collection. At university she specialized in draping, and, just like Madame Vionnet, she never got used to make sketches; being Greece her homeland, her trademark is the fluid draped dress finessed with frills, intricate pleating, floating textures, twists and embroidery. She also explored her native country folksy side, making fresh work of traditional elements like Greek medallions and pom-poms. She had all the values for being Vionnet’s designer. In 2007 Vionnet collection was shown by appointment only, and sold exclusively at Barneys New York. Chavet, Vionnet’s chief operating officer, said that the made-in-France collection would have had tags as high as $5,500 for an organza coat or $5,900 for a suede jacket, positioning the brand on the cusp of ready- to-wear and couture. In May of the same year Sophia Kokosalaki departed 43

to concentrate on her signature line. Former Prada and Hermes designer Marc Audibet was named to succeed her. In October, Audibet made his debut with a small showroom presentation. In February 2008 Audibet exits after a single season. In an AFP report, it was quoted from Audibet that the reason for his resignation was “the inability of the management of the house Vionnet to find the material and financial conditions necessary for the achievement of collections, and without answers to their questions it was obliged to ending with great sorrow to his duties as creator and artistic advisor of the house.” The creative team took over design duties. In 2009 former Valentino Fashion Group chairman Matteo Marzotto acquired the brand with Marni CEO Gianni Castiglioni. Long time Miuccia Prada design assistant Rodolfo Paglialunga was named creative director. In July of 2009, Paglialunga made his debut with a resort collection of clothes and accessories. The spring collection was shown at Paris’s Musée de l’Homme. In 2010 Vionnet collection was presented at Jean Cocteau’s former apartment, overlooking Paris’s Palais Royale. For this occasion, Rodolfo Paglialunga collaborated with shoe designer Giuseppe Zanotti on a 25-piece collection. In 2011 a franchised boutique opened in Kuwait City. In the same year, Rodolfo Paglialunga and the brand parted ways. He was replaced by Italian twin sisters Barbara and Lucia Croce (the first had previous experience at Prada, Miu Miu, Ralph Lauren and Gucci – the second at Valentino, Neil Barrett and Ter et Bantine). In December Vionnet boutique opened in Palazzo Premoli, Milan. In the same year, archival Vionnet pieces owned by Wallis Simpson were re-created for the Madonna-directed film about the stylish duchess, W.E. In 2012 the Croce sisters make their runway debut, with a pre-fall collection: then, in March, Paris got its first in-depth look at the Croce sisters’ efforts, at the fall show in Paris. Unfortunately, a new change occurred when Matteo Marzotto and Castiglioni sold the label to British-based Kazakhstan businesswoman

Goga Ashkenazi in late 2012. The new owner also became the creative director of the brand, and took advance of many Thayaht sketches sold to her by Michahelles family. Her mission is to re-launch the brand following carefully instructions coming from the archive and adding a touch of modernity to the look. Two of the former owners of the brand from the 1990s still retain senior positions inside the brand’s board. 2) Goga Ashkenazi Goga Ashkenazi (née Gaukhar Erkinova Berkalieva) is a Kazakh businesswoman that in May 2012 bought Vionnet from Matteo Marzotto Group. Born February 1st 1980 in Kazakhstan as daughter of Erkin and Saule, respectively a construction engineer and a doctor. During Gorbaciov government the family moved to Moscow, for the father’s employment in local politics. She studied history and economics in Oxford, and started to develop important friendships and connections with famous finance names and international personalities. During her years in the United Kingdom she had experience working for important firms such as Merrill Lynch (London) and ABN AMRO (Hong Kong). At twenty-four she married Stefan Ashkenazi, heir of the hotel company Hotel Ermitage, and begins a business with her sister, Meuret, in the oil industry, founding MunaiGas-Engeneering Group, where she served as Chairman and CEO. She owns properties all over the world, but at the moment she lives in Milan, where Vionnet headquarters have been located. “I’ve always loved fashion, since I was a little girl”, she says. “It happened with Vionnet, that I consider as a child of mine: I have to give myself entirely to it. My sister will deal with all the other business. I want Vionnet to be the fashion for women like me: chic and polished, but also very practical and active. The idea is that of being always well dressed but never over dressed. An elegance that is simple, translated into a modern key with a twist. We’ll keep the brand DNA, the bias, draping, geometries, but making it a bit more sexy. At the moment we’re working on the tuxedo, that I’d like to re-interpret à la Vionnet. We’ll have a Parisian spirit into a Milanese body”. 44

3) Conflict Resolution Map II



“Thayaht had a strong and determinant influence over Madeleine Vionnet” said the curator. “the studies over mathematics and geometrical theories had a great impact over his work and that of Mme Vionnet in the first years of the 1920s”.

Following, a list of exhibitions of Vionnet. Source: 1973: Former Vogue editor in chief Diana Vreeland includes several Vionnet designs in her exhibit “The 10s, the 20s, the 30s: Inventive Clothes 1909–1939: at the Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute. 1987: In March, Vogue spotlights the exhibit “Three Women: Vionnet, McCardell, Kawakubo” at the Museum at F.I.T. 1998: Vionnet’s cylindrical day dresses included in the Met Costume Institute exhibit “Cubism and Fashion.” 2003: May: Draped Vionnet dresses shown in the Met Costume Institute exhibit “Goddess. 2009: Vionnet retrospective, curated by Pamela Golbin, opens at Les Arts Décoratifs in Paris 2013 January: “Thayaht: Between Art and Fashion” The exhibit includes 60 drawings executed from 1919 to 1925 by the futurist artist Thayaht.

We personally attended this exhibition, whose opening occurred during Milan Fashion Week. The time has been chosen right for this event, and it attracted a wide public. The main reason why this exhibition was organized was to remind the history of the brand and attract the attention through original sketches, that were explained to us by the curators of the event. The exhibition also presented 3D installations, during which the garments were moving according to the movement of the hands of the people present. The exhibition was useful from the historical point of view and for understanding the direction and position of the brand of Vionnet under the creative direction of Goga Ashkenazi. It was asked to the curator, “what does Thayaht represents for the brand?”. 47

“Who could be the modern Thayaht for the brand that has been re-launched by Miss. Ashkenazi?” “The modern Thayaht could be an artist with a wide and profound knowledge of the present, but still looking at the past in terms of inspiration and to the future for innovation”. “What are these sketches, in terms of value, for Vionnet in 2013”. “These sketches are the most valuable finds for the brand. They talk about an age that doesn’t exist any more but that it has been translated into our days by the new Vionnet. It feels like Thayaht is still alive”. March 2nd – July 6th 2013: “Paris Haute Couture”, retrospective held in the Salle SaintJean of the Hôtel de Ville. The exhibition brings together approximately 100 exquisite creations from the likes of couturiers Charles Worth, Cristóbal Balenciaga, and Madeleine Vionnet, 80 of them loaned from the Musée Galliera and 20 others from Swarovski, the show’s sponsor. Featuring creations by: Elsa Schiaparelli, Christian Dior, Jeanne Lanvin, Paul Poiret, Christian Lacroix, John Galliano, Paco Rabanne, Pierre Cardin, JeanPaul Gaultier and Martin Margiela. April 12th 2013: 2.0 – An Exhibition at the Bagatti Valsecchi Museum – Milan. Fausto and Giuseppe Bagatti Valsecchi, together with patroness Goga Ashkenazi and Rossana Orlandi, are celebrating a new interpretation of a red thread bridging the Past with the Contemporary spirit. The rooms host artworks from Front Design, Studio Deform, Paul Heijnen, Niels Hoebers, Thomas Libertiny, Yukiko Nagai, Frederique Morrel, Dirk Van Der Kooij, Maarten Baas, Martin Smith, President Von Pelt, Enrico Marone Cinzano, Massimiliano Locatelli from CLS Architetti, Manuela Crotti and Giampiero Milella.



1919: Ernesto Michahelles also known as Thayaht. 1923: The so-called “Temple of Fashion” (collaboration of architect Ferdinand Chanut, decorator George de Feure and crystal sculptor René Lalique) incorporated a spectacular Salon de Présentation and two boutiques: a fur salon and a lingerie salon. 2006: Vionnet and Barney’s New York, official re-launch. Vionnet’s S/S 2006 collection sold exclusively at Barney’s New York. June 2010: Vionnet and Giuseppe Zanotti. Officially presented at Paris Fashion Week 2010/2011.

About the collaboration, Zanotti said, “Vionnet and Giuseppe Zanotti share the same passion and commitment to feminine elegance, unique design and superior craftsmanship. Interpreting Vionnet with a complete and unique shoe collection is a creative and entrepreneurial challenge.” October 2012: Alessandro Possati’s short movie “Vionnet in: Homage to Isadora Duncan”. It premiered in Paris on Sunday September 30th, 2012. The film marks the 100-year anniversary. Choreography by Jakob Sekuba. Salone del Mobile 2012: the Vionnet boutique transformed into a small exhibition space for Christopher Kautz creations for Cranewalk, “Wood made to measure”. February 22nd, 2013: Vionnet and W Magazine together for the exposition “Thayaht, between art and fashion”, during Milan Fashion Week.



Fall 2007/2008: by Sophia Kokosalaki.

The first show of Vionnet, after the closing of the maison by Madema herself, occurred in 2007. The collection was designed by Sophia Kokosalaki and was presented at the Paris fashion week at the beginning of the same year. The new designer declared, “It has to be French, formal, and pure. I avoid festoonery”. The style was minimal, and she worked on the manipulation of the super-luxe. Nevertheless, colours were not matching with the DNA of the brand and the colours Vionnet used to play with; textures were old, and not innovative or fresh in any possible way. Sophia Kokosalaki seemed to be competing with Burberry (or, among the competitors, Lanvin/YSL by StefanoPilati) rather than trying to build the modern identity of Vionnet, iconic French brand from the 1920s. Resort 2010: by Rodolfo Paglialunga.

The next collection was showed after a very long break in 2010. The new designer, Rodolfo Paglialunga, presented a resort collection that lacked in credibility. The collection abounded with too much draping and over-styled models, creating an overall impression of 1980s Vionnet interpretation. The lack in the use of any kind of geometrical form, the well know resource of Madame Madeleine, made the rest. Rodolfo Paglialunga, whose art direction was never celebrated by critic or review, always seemed to have confused ideas about the brand DNA and identity, and so, not being able to produce a fresh and powerful collection strong in its message. His mix and matching the old and what he considered to be new were simply not working at all. In Paglialunga collections things stay together only for miracle, because he keeps on confusing and contradicting himself. It is obvious, though, that he had to face a peculiar challenge. The mission to take a brand that was closed seventy years before by its own founder and to give to it new life under a fresh and strong approach to the archive is not easy. He didn’t seem to have understood that his mission was not to design a modern version of Vionnet; his mission

would have been to analyse the brand identity and roots and imagine the 21st Century embodiment of Vionnet. The direction should have been dramatically different from the 1920 style; the solution, a new concept, and a stronger dialectic. Paglialunga decided to focus on evening wear and ball gowns rather than on day-wear and more practical garments. Under his direction, his models went under the spotlight more than once because worn by the stars in occasion of prestigious gala and award events. He never centred his attention of common daily life and real women wearing his clothes, and this is also one of the many points why it could be supposed that he wasn’t renewed to be the creative director of this prestigious maison. Pre Fall: by Barbara and Lucia Croce.

The new creative directors of the brand started with a smart move, that is to select signature pieces of the Vionnet maison. Their approach was smart, and they seemed to embody a modern Vionnet themselves, celebrating the woman through liberating and modern pieces. Another significant move was their use of geometry, contemplated for the first time after the brand re-launch in 2007. Colours also were chosen more carefully; browns, beiges, greys, neutral and calm tones that were also used by Madeleine Vionnet across her whole career. They were also inspired by Japanese culture in the same way the original designer was at the beginning of the 20th Century. The style of Barbara and Lucia Croce is more minimalistic than Paglialunga’. Moreover, they chose to focus on day-wear and the professional working woman, making a jump back into reality from Paglialunga’s preview red carpets emotions. They said “it is important for us to propose a complete wardrobe”, making pragmatism be their beat inside the fashion house. They paid attention to merchandise choosing to actually sell what they were designing; their realistic approach was good appeared to be as very smart business plan. The innovation they suggested was in their approach to asymmetry, taking a bit of distance from the well know bias technique, exploited in every possible way also from the precedent designers. Nevertheless, all the effort appeared to be vain, since the brand got bought from Goga Ashkenazi in 2012, meaning another change in the creative direction and the interruption of a work in progress that seemed to be going in the right way. 52

Spring 2013: by Goga Ashkenazi.

She showed to have a very general sense of the brand but not going into deep too much. The Ashkenazi, in other words, seemed to be designing for herself. Madame used to dress actresses, public personalities, socialites, important people, but it’s undeniable that the times have changed and so the glamour of the celebrity world. It can be deducted that a focus on the geometrical concept is fundamental. Everyone in the fashion industry makes dresses; the solution in order to create something different and outstanding could be realized by applying secure codes and axioms that have been retraced in the history of the brand and translate them into present collections through a modern and fresh approach. The task to interpret the old into something new in 2013 is difficult without any doubt, and it is obvious that the simple move to bring back icons of Vionnet’s identity is not enough. It’s necessary to take a strong path that nobody has ever taken up to now; considering that Vionnet is a brand characterized by elements that figured as innovative even more at the beginning of the last century, surely the tools to take ahead the translation are not missing. It is not a matter of evolution, because what is part of the past must remains in the past; translation of ancient elements into a new identity seems more promising and encouraging. All the designers that have worked on the relaunched brand since 2007 have basically copied competitors adding a portion of Vionnet’s most trivial ID symbols and a percentage of their personal vision over fashion. Nobody seems to have studied the brand well enough in its roots, identity, philosophy, or understood Madame Vionnet’s inspirations and passions. Collections, simply, didn’t have a precise identity and an overall concept. Moreover, all the designers focused on different occasions and use: Sophia Kokosalaki on the Brit chic, Paglialunga on the evening-wear and ball gown, the Croce sisters on daily wear and Goga Ashkenazi on, to be honest, herself. The risk of dealing with a dead brand is that it is not possible to take the past and make it new. The designers should have taken totally different directions, a divorce in great style from the past, the rebirth of a new brand. 53


By Analysing PR activity, it can be noticed which directions have been taken during last 3 years. It’s important because it gives information about goals and targets of the creative director and executives and its give information about brand image in a particular year. The findings are based on the analysis of data collected from official web site of the company ( There are full date of 2011 and 2012, one issue of 2010 and few issues of 2013.

Mentions in Editorials 2010









This data tells us that in 2011 PR activity was higher than previous and next years. The reason of that is the red carpet orientation of Rodolfo Paglialunga. The PR activity under him was high, and a lot of celebrities were involved, for example Carey Mulligan, Zoe Saldana, Natalie Portman, Hilary Swank. The same year, the collaboration with Madonna’s movie “W.E.” took place, and the number of media events was high enough. In this case, 2011 was the most successful from PR activity point of view. Goga Ashkenazi is probably very concentrated on the re-branding of Vionnet, also because for now the brand seems to be stuck in the shadows - for five months the company had only six issues. One of them and the biggest one is about Goga herself as a person.

Mentions by Country in Editorials Country 2010 2011 2012 Australia 0 2 2 Canada 0 1 0 China 0 3 2 Denmark 0 1 0 France 0 8 5 Holland 0 0 1 India 0 1 0 Italy 0 35 17 Japan 0 11 0 Latin America 0 1 0 Russia 0 5 2 Singapore 0 1 1 Spain 0 6 1 Sweden 0 0 1 Turkey 0 0 1 UK 1 12 0 USA 0 16 2


2013 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 0 1 0 0 0 1

The one that follows is an analysis of mentions in editorials by countries. According to this information, in 2011 and 2012 Italy is the highest ranking country for editorial numbers, probably because Vionnet is currently under Italian entrepreneurs and until now the head offices of the brand are located in Milan. As long as official web site doesn’t provide the information of 2010, except one single issue, it was difficult to analyse 2010 along with 2011 and 2012. At the second place there are USA in 2011, and the third is UK. This is due to the fact that the goal was to dress for red carpet occasion rather than for everyday wear. It can also be noticed that Japanese editorials became rather active, if compared to other years. It can be evinced that Vionnet was looking to extend in Japan or increase the awareness there. In 2012, the second place was occupied by France.

Mentions in main Editorials Magazines 2011 2012 Vogue 16 7 Harper’s Bazaar 3 2 Marie Claire 5 1 Elle 10 4 Glamour 7 1 Grazia 5 0


2013 1 0 0 1 1 0


Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Marie Claire, Elle, Glamour and Grazia were selected because they represent the press where Vionnet was mentioned more frequently. The biggest number of mentions of the brand was in Vogue 2011 - 2012. It’s the most authoritative editorial, and it can be expected to be correct and clear. Elle scored the second position for its eleven issues per year, therefore because of its wide coverage editorials. Since 2011, Vionnet was named “red carpet brand” thank to celebrities participations and due to the fact that particular editorials were used – Grazia, Glamour,Hello. In general the Pr activity of Vionnet was not and it is not really high. The only year where the activity was good enough was 2011.












YES 1467 308 NO YES 562 NO 0 YES 86 YES VIONNET_PARIS 1025







Original data were gathered directly from Vionnet’s flagship store in Milan. Vionnet opened of its first boutique in Milan December 16th, 2011 in Corso Monforte 16, right in the heart of the city design district. Situated on the ground floor of Palazzo Premoli, the store offers a seamless link to the brand’s headquarters, showroom and artisan-filled ateliers located in the upper floors of the same building (220 square meter space). Rigorous lines are coupled with rich materials such as marble and brass that back to the renowned Parisian atelier of Avenue Montaigne opened by Vionnet, that figures as a potent reference of French fashion from 1912 to 1939. Reference to the work of Thayaht are also displayed. The quality of garments was not good, especially of the evening dresses. We had the chance to speak to the manager of the shop, that explained that “Vionnet opened in the heart of Milan fashion district because luxury stands at the heart of the brand; Vionnet is synonym of luxury and innovation, and we had no doubt but to invest in the best position for the flagship store”. We asked information regarding the quality of the dresses and the quality control of the products, but we received very vague answers such as “the quality of every piece is our primary interest: Vionnet produces at high quality and the result is a high luxury fashion that is able to compete with all the major luxury brands”. If compared with what has been experienced inside the store, these declarations are anything but transparent.



Here it is analysed Vionnet’s pricing policy, both before Goga Ashkenazi became the creative director and Vionnet with Goga Ashkenazi.

The following graphs represent Vionnet’s average prices by items before Goga Ashkenazi. The price information was taken from e-commerce web sites, such as,,, and



1) Price line of Vionnet dresses The price line of Vionnet dresses starts from a minimum of 247 Euros to reach the maximum of 4099 Euros. It is a considerable wide range that is not organized so to have a core element at a competitive price. The dress should have a focus price: in this way it could be recognized as the identity item of the brand and confusion and disparities about the prices would be avoided.


2) Price line of Vionnet skirts The price line is in this case more homogeneous, starting from the beginning (300 Euros) until 1000 Euros. Since this point the prices show a vertical increment by jumping to 1200 and 2000 Euros per piece. The price line should be more linear and should grow gradually by avoiding drastic changes. 75


3) Price line of Vionnet gowns This graph shows the most linear evolution in the growth line among all Vionnet merchandise graphical depictions. The price starts from the minimum of 1100 reaching at the top a maximum of 5500 Euros. Prices are here justified since gowns are, alongside dresses, the core items of the brand. It is therefore right to have such elevated prices.


4) Price line of Vionnet pants This price line is divided in three parts. The first starts from a base of 200 Euros and arrives at an affordable price of 400 Euros; the second part begins with 600 Euros (wide gap of 200 Euros from the previous segment) and terminates at 1000 Euros. The last part of the price line is represented by only one price that is 1420 Euros. The price line is therefore not organized and not homogeneous. Pants are not the brand core items and it is for this reason that prices should be kept lower. 77


5) Price line of Vionnet tops The price line of Vionnet tops presents a steady pace from the starting price of 200 Euros until a higher price of 1250. From this point on, the price line shows a very large gap, and from the end of the first section to the second there is a margin of 1500 Euros: the last two pieces listed are 2650 and 2700 Euros.


6) Price line of Vionnet sweaters The price line of sweaters is divided in the graph in two defined segments, far from each other by a margin of more than 400 Euros. The first segment starts from 210 Euros and terminates at 390 Euros: this line is homogeneous and the price is coherent with the product. The second segment is characterized by fewer points: it begins at 790 Euros and finishes at 990 Euros. 79


7) Price line of Vionnet blouses The price line is linear and regular from the beginning (200 Euros) until the end (800 Euros). One point stands out from the group of pieces analysed (1100 Euros). The line is correct.


8) Price line of Vionnet jackets The line is characterized by irregularities and imperfection in the linear growth. The starting price is 350 Euros and the ending point is at 1700 Euros. It must be kept in consideration that the jacket is not the focus item of the brand, and that the hypothetical customer would probably choose a jacket cored brand when looking for jackets (ex: Burberry, Fendi). The price line of Vionnet is good in the average, but it should be maintained at a slightly lower level. 81


9) Price line of Vionnet shoes If observing the shoe department of the brand, it is noticed that Vionnet doesn’t have a wide range of product. The price line is therefore characterized by few points that start from a minimum of 290 Euros going up to 700 Euros. There is a wide gap of more than 300 Euros between the last and the second higher point. The line should be more homogeneous and should focus on one intermediate price.


10) Price line of Vionnet bags The line is regular and increasing in the right way. The starting price is 400 and the highest is 1100. The items are few but well distributed inside the line. 83


11) Price line of Vionnet accessories The line is characterized by many items and the growth is regular and well distributed over the graph. The starting price is 50 Euros and the maximum price is 650 Euros. The range is wide and varied, and the gradation is coherent with the category. Giambattista Valli, Valentino and Lanvin were taken as competitors of Vionnet. All these companies are specialised on evening dresses and gowns. The highest price it that of Valentino, the second place is taken by Lanvin, the third by Giambattista Valli and the last place belongs to Vionnet. Compared with the past, Vionnet with Goga Ashkenazi increased the pricing policy. The competitors of Vionnet obviously have higher recall and recognition and they are not new players at the Fashion Market in compare with re-launched Vionnet.











The following graphs show the benchmark which is based of knowledge of average prices, heritage, style and recognition of the brands.




Vionnet had two logos since the re-launch of the brand, both registered in March 2011. The first is a simple style wording of “Vionnet”, bold letters, no capitals. The second (March 2011) is a simple “Vionnet” wording on top of Paris (indication of origin), written with a smaller font, all capitals and same font of the above wording. The V as capital letter stands higher than all the other letters in the logo. The font is clear and rigorous still bearing a touch of art deco- liberty flavour. Colours are black and white. According to trademark database, Vionnet first modern was registered by Vionnet S.p.A on June 2006 (year of the brand re-launch) and covering classes 3 (soaps, perfumery and cosmetics), 18 (leather goods) and 25 (clothing, footwear, headgear) of Nice classification. A second trademark was registered again by Vionnet S.p.A in July 2006 only for classes 18 and 25.




1) Vision: Philosophy of Geometry In the same way as Madeleine Vionnet (also known as the Euclid of fashion) once declared at the end of the first decade of 1900, “Geometry defines life”, we now state that, in the case of the re-branded Vionnet, geometry is not only a life definer any more: it is, further, a life style, where precision and logic are able to depict and describe the reality around us with the strongest power. The Philosophy of Geometry talks about the influence of the science on the daily life, approaches, relationships, emotions; it talks about the three-dimensional representation in the architecture of all the natural elements that continuously surround the mankind and that hold the balance of the world. Geometry is the philosophy of numbers and nature, rationality and the beauty of irrationality. We see a world translated into lines, codes and curves that however doesn’t lose its wild magnificence (that, on the contrary, is enhanced by its communion with the strength of the logic) and innovative harmony. 2) Mission: Archi-Fashion The brand chooses as new direction the architecture, the sub-child-category of the geometry that translates into the threedimensional the sketches of its mother science. The idea of the re-launched Vionnet is to give life to a collaboration with architects in order to create a product that doesn’t only refers to fashion but to the world of architecture, design and art as well. The head architect will work alongside a creative design team, and the result will be characterized by innovative collections speaking in an intellectual global language. 3) Values: - Central Value: Eucli-tech

The Eucli-tech is a personality that doesn’t hold a standard view over fashion. The approach 93

is characterized by a wider understanding of the surroundings, so that the worlds of art, architecture, design, intellectualism merge all together under the same area of interest. The Euclitech dwells in the early adopters’ section: it is brave so to interact with innovation before anybody else that is worried about the new does it. Its attitude is open for intellectually stimulating development. It is intellectual but in an understated way, it doesn’t like to be at the center of the flashes (hermit attitude: creation of a safe place from where to observe the rest); at the same time it derives satisfaction by making statements through its choices in life. Its interests are many and go from art and politics to literature and poetry, design and architecture. Class, deep understanding of the world, the desire to embrace the physics of reality and a genuine curiosity connected with intellectualism are the main features of the Eucli-tech, an evolution of the ancient Greek philosopher that studied the world and nature with his formula s and theories made of numbers and ratios. - Expressive Value: Architectural Aesthetic

Architecture is the three dimensional interpretation of geometry, it gives life to paper scratches and plans by building concrete figures that have a pivotal impact on society and life on earth, that represents culture and ideologies, and that reflect art visions and floating thoughts on pragmatic material. The aesthetic that Vionnet will adopt is looking to architecture to define structured creations that are not limited to be understood only by the fashion field, but that on the contrary will engage in intellectual conversations with the worlds of art and knowledge. The brand will cooperate with established worldknown architects so to reach this goal; the guest art directors will be sided by design teams that will help to translate into fashion-language their unique vision and conception of structure, to fulfil an aesthetic that is innovative and intellectually stimulating. - Instrumental Value: GEO-metrical advancement/3D software

Geometry is a Greek word that means earth and measure. It studies the word through numbers, codes and theories, and nature is examined and translated into formulas and bi-dimensional geometrical representations.

Advancement is a movement that brings forwards, toward something that is close or very far, something that still has to be discovered, understood, translated for the human mind. Advancement leads to what is new and to everything that has the power to surprise and impress the public. Advancement is a step two times progressive that surpasses what has become conventional and faces a new era. From geometry to architecture, the next step is to transform the idea into material. Vionnet will point on 3Dimensional software techniques that will translate from flat to volume the visions of the architects. The 3D software represents and advancement in the creative field; the creations that would result from such a project will undoubtedly surpass the present by approaching an innovative way of making fashion that still belongs to the virgin future. One specific focus of the 3Dimensional technology will develop around the figure of the triangle.


The identity of Vionnet in the re-branding phase will not be subjected to many changes. The core values and concepts will be maintained, and some others will be simply modified into their natural evolution, according to the present time in which the brand will be re-launched. Geometry evolves into Architecture, meaning the transition from a bi-dimensional state to a threedimensional representation, and beyond. Sketches and designs progress towards a physical condition that enlightens the properties of the geometry, still dwelling into the threads and the cuts of every piece. Furthermore, in the re-launched brand the creations will literally bear architectural constructions over the fabric, such as voluminous triangles and polygons, and cuts that emphasize the structure of the pattern. It won’t be just about translating from paper to cloth, but the fabric also will face literal transformation from its state of

plainness and smoothness into a 3dimension of volumes and tangible curves. The Bias Cut becomes now the Bias Concept: the bias cut will be still present in the creation process of design, but, furthermore, it will be mainly conceived as the approach of the brand towards the world and ideal lifestyle. Vionnet is now about taking risks, exploring new perspectives and scenarios that are not necessarily connected with the fashion system. Vionnet is still a brand about cuts, innovation and the care for cutting techniques, but at its core there is a curious personality, the desire to break the walls of fashion and discover new connections with external fields such as the arts and architecture. The Bias is, in the re-launched brand, more of a lifestyle and attitude. It really embodies the spirit of Mme Vionnet and her emancipated spirit. Vionnet 96

is about exploring, testing, going against without renouncing to the order of the construction process and the logic that is proper of the elegant and intelligent woman the brand speaks to. The 3D concept is maintained in the evolution phase of the brand: though, it is put into practice with different tools, such as 3Dimensional computer soft-wares. The result is the creation of structured and architectural one of a kind haute couture masterpieces and pret à porter garments. The merchandise interpretation will translate into wearable fashion the high concept of the couture line through geometrical figures and prints characterized by rigorous lines and shapes (triangles, polygons). In the re-launched brand, the 3D is the evolution of the draping technique of Mme Vionnet during the twenties, her habit to construct the dress directly on the body of the models and small scale dolls, focusing on the fall effect of the fabrics and their fulfilment on the body shape. Nature plays a fundamental role in Vionnet’s advanced identity. The concept wants to communicate a sense of connection with the current reality and the environment in which people are surrounded, the core of every woman personality and genuine feelings. The natural space can also be the metropolitan habitat where the woman of Vionnet is nonetheless keeping in touch with her natural femininity and her spontaneous essence. Vionnet natural approach wants to communicate a concept of body centrality that considers the forms of the woman as the focus of the brand philosophy.

civilizations, the triangle has been the symbol of the triad that makes all existence possible. it has also been interpreted as the symbol for: • the father, mother and the son. • the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit (Christianity). • the male, the female and he creative power. • - the sky, the earth and the living creatures. • the union of two that creates the third. • the power of the One to become All. • an upside down triangle is the Pagan symbol for a woman, while a right side up triangle is the symbol for a male. The structure and the logic of the triangle make this figure perfect for the new concept that Vionnet will use at the core of its identity. It is a geometrical element that still is representative for a wide, modern imaginary of concepts that belong to different fields (ex: nature, religion, creation). In the same as Vionnet, it is formed by both straight and bias lines: follow the system and going against, the pro and the cons, positive and negative, nature and architecture. In other words, dualism.

It is important to create a connection with the primary essence of the individual, and Vionnet exploits the naturalness and the candour of the original personal character. The triangle: A triangle is one of the basic shapes in geometry. it is a polygon with three corners or vertices and three sides or edges which are line segments. In Euclidean geometry, any three points, when non- collinear, determine a unique triangle and a unique plane. Elementary argumentation about triangles were presented by Euclid in book 1-4 of his Elements, around 300 B.C. The triangle is the symbol of masculinity, while the circle is the symbol of femininity. since the earliest 98


1) Eucli-tech Eucli-tech is the natural and modern translation of preview Vionnet’s archetype, Euclid, and it represents the vision, mission and the new values of the re-launched brand. The Eucli-tech is a personality divided between two poles, architecture and the center of the body; at the same time, it has to face the heritage from the past, an element that must be kept into consideration if the attempt is that of effectuate a successful re-brand. Eucli-tech is also a character that enters into contact with the brand: the hypotetical client, so to speak. The Eucli-tech is a woman that observes fashion with an alternative and wider point of view, not stopping to the appearances and deepening the conversation with concepts, inner messages and the philosophy of the brand. She feels herself at the center of an energetic field where her body represents the core position between the two poles of architecture and nature. She explores the world and artificial creations not forgetting about nature, that constantly embraces the body ubiquitously. Everything originates from nature and finds its expression in the architecture of modern society, with a human body at the center that is free to experiment and learn out of its natural curiosity and initiative. She is an early adopter because she doesn’t need the secure feeling to be doing the right thing at the right time. Risk and experimentation are key elements of her approach to life, fashion and art, because they lead into intelle ctuality and the evolution of culture and personal knowledge. Her interests are related to politics and sociology, philosophy and economics, science, architecture, music and modern art, but she doesn’t deny to herself frivolous pleasures such as relationships and mundane events. Her goal is to recognize quality and beauty among the endless amount in inputs she is bombarded with everyday. Careful selection of what is good and positively effective on the body and mind is fundamental. She surround herself by knowledge,

culture to live at her best the natural scenarios of life, those that are central in every woman’s life and that eventually become dear memories and are remembered. The Eucli-tech expresses its values through two concepts, Architecture and the Center of the Body. 2) Architecture If originally we had geometry, now it is architecture, that is the natural evolution of the bi-dimensional science. From 2d to 3d, the discipline is now able to speak through a more visual approach; it abandons the precedent realm of the paper patterns and explore the universe of physical structure, something that is built and created to be pragmatically used in the real life. Architecture will be fulfilled by advanced threedimensional computer soft wares and innovative fabrics coming from specialized researches, and the result will be extraordinary cutting edge fashion masterpieces that will speak of concept, art and intellectuality. The triangle, with its symbolism and strong meaning, will represent a steady focus for the design team. 3) Center of the Body Architecture is an art that is strictly connected with human body, whose role is to explore and to live the space that is three-dimensionally built. Human body is at the center of the attention in the re-branding of Vionnet; the body is the core of the creation, it lives inside the fabrics and the ingenious constructions. The body is the physical and pragmatic center of the universe and society, and in these terms it is consider in the values of the brand. 4) Heritage Geometry into architecture, nature into body at the center; but, at the same time, the new Vionnet aims to keep elements such as fluidity, intellectuality and scientific planning, that evolve in the present into structure, conceptual and dream respectively. The fluidity of the silk is transformed into a strong structure made from the 3d soft wares and research teams; intellectuality as fuel becomes conceptual, a strong hidden message behind every creation, an inspiring motto that enigmatically speaks for the new identity of the brand; scientific planning develops into the dream, the artistic vision

of the new Vionnet that is now able to experiment its creativity spacing from architecture to sculpture and unique haute couture pieces of art. If we had to identify a physical person to embody the new values of the brand, the identity of new Vionnet and the style that will be suggests through haute couture and pret à porter, Miroslava Duma would be the very first choice of this management team. Miroslava Duma is the personality that the brand selects so to define in a more precise way the new target identified. Miroslava Duma worked as a former editor for Russian Harper’s Bazaar and she’s now practising as freelance writer for many fashion magazine, such as Tatler and Glamour. Daugther of a Russian senator, she grew up during the last years of the Cold War, and once the URRS collapsed in 1991 she started to experience with the real fashion that was coming from the Western countries. She developed a personal interest for the golden age of Hollywood and the movie stars of the time (Katherine Hepburn, Marylin Monroe and Cary Grant), and with the passing of time she created a fashionable style characterized by geometrical patterns, bright colors in steady contrast with the Cold War regulations and feminine accessories. She founded Buro 24/7 ,a website dedicated to fashion, art, architecture, cinema, music and style and is now a freelance writer. An Eastern European version is available by license, and there are plans for an English, Asian, French and Arabic version, and even Buro cafés and bars. Among the endless list of designers that she loves, she is loyal to Vika, Marni, Chanel, Phoebe Philo, Raf Simons, Ostwald Helgason and Proenza Schouler. Miroslava Duma is per perfect embodiment of Vionnet’s client. She doesn’t limit herself in being only a fashion lover, but she is always keen to explore new fields and cultures, from painting and sculpture to architecture and the decorative arts. She is a business woman that pointed the focus of her life on her family and friends, still not abandoning her career and personal ambitions. She is a world explorer, and she has no geographical boundaries; her interests can space from science to Russian literature, and she is curious and eager to know more every day. She’s an optimist and a free, independent young woman, that in some many ways resembles to a young Madeleine Vionnet. She is the Vionnet woman.


1) Client: The client of the new Vionnet is the Eucli-tech. The Eucli-tech is an intellectual woman that doesn’t want to show off: she is a low key high cultured personality, that embrace culture with a quiet, private sophisticated approach. She loves fashion and design but she keeps in touch also with cultural fields outside the fashion system, such as arts and architecture.

design. The two professional groups will be sided by the team of engineer, that will work on research: their task will be that of discover and/or invent new fabrics to create one of a kind pieces. Every creation will be the result of the elaboration of the original idea through 3Dimensional computer soft wares, that will translate sketches and designs into innovative fabrics sculptures.

She is an early adopter and she loves to experiment with what is new and with what is unknown to the majority of the public. She is an opinion leader, she is eclectic and a culture explorer. 2) Use and Occasion: the Ecli-tech wears Vionnet to express her statement of advancement. Vionnet is an innovative brand focusing on always being one step ahead, and the client will eventually wear Vionnet’s creations for the same purpose. The haute couture collections will embody the concepts of Vionnet through the elaborated and technological architecture of their structures, and will represent the hyper-exclusivity conception of the brand. The pret à porter line will be more affordable and will represent the perfect translation of the intellectual concepts of the haute couture into wearable pieces both for day wear and evening wear, elegant and geometry driven designs. Haute couture and pret à porter will share the concept of the architectural construction and the geometrical study that will lead to structured, luxurious and innovative items. 3) Technology: he Lab is at the center of the new technology. The Lab is a laboratory where different fields cowork together to give life to innovative products. The architect, that will also be entitled as creative director of Vionnet, will work alongside a team of architects to conceive new designs and ideas coming from the architecture world that could also be inserted into a fashion context. The team of the designers will then translate these ideas into sketches and pragmatic images through their fresh approach and innovative look over the fashion 106



and evolving into painting, sculpture and then into architecture, the idea comes from words and it is then translated into walls, ceilings and colours, complex building still natural and organic in their shapes and inner concepts.


The new strategy for the re-launched Vionnet will act upon a collaboration between Vionnet and teams of architects, designers and engineers that will work together in order to create an innovative product and confer a new competitive advantage to the brand. They will work inside the Lab. 1) The Lab The Lab is a laboratory where the professionals will work together. There will be three teams, architects, designers and engineers, and each one will be represented by a leading figure. The concept of the lab speaks of experienced experts and freshly formed minds working inside the same space and for a common goal, the creation of an innovative fashion collection that looks to the art world through the key hole of 3d soft wares and engineering knowledge. Ideas will be shared for the construction of an environment that focuses on creativity and experimentation. 2) The Architects As we chose architecture to be the center of the new concept, we decided to inaugurate a collaboration with established architects, who in our opinion are the only ones able to interpret the new identity of the brand. The main figure we identified as the perfect architect for Vionnet is Massimiliano Fuksas, Italian architect born in Rome in 1944 and author of some of the most famous project of the last forty years. We had the chance to attend to his lecture at the event “Fabbrica Europa”, Stazione Leopolda of Florence, on May 9th, 2013; the lecture, entitled “One day, One project”, proved our vision to be right. Mr. Fuksas spoke about his vision, his work ethic, what influences him during his workday. The most interesting information we recorded was a structure that the architect applies to the system of development of a project; starting from poetry 109

Moreover, Fuksas is a big supporter of the art of removing, Chinese origami’s art and nature: take off, paper models, flower building with petal shaped roofs. Don’t all these elements speak of Vionnet? We met Mr. Fuksas at the end of the conference and, when asked by us the questions “In your opinion does a connection exist between fashion and architecture, and, if yes, how strongly rooted it is and how it expresses itself?” and “If you were asked to collaborate with a fashion brand, what would you do?”, he gave the answers we were dreaming to receive. To the first question, his answer went to “I absolutely believe there is a close connection between these two disciplines, and it is natural and even obvious. They both work with human body at the center; it is in both cases dresses, be the cover a roof or a piece of cloth, but that doesn’t matter that much. Architects want people to experience the space that they build by living it in the best conditions possible; designers construct fabric architecture so to have a body that is able to move comfortably and with no efforts to feel free. They both work with numbers, measures, gypsum models or paper patterns, models that can be living or plastic”. “I would consider the offer”, he answered to the second question. “After all”, he continued, “life is about experiment, and nothing new comes if not from the merging of different fields, even if far and apparently not sharing common element together”.

We discover a professional incredibly down to earth, open to dialogue and honest and modest. He said that in every project he realises along side his wife and studio partner Doriana Mandrelli, there’s a bit of his family. Many places he builds are connected to his father, mother, relatives. Probably not so emotionally detached as Mme Vionnet, but always career directed. The architect in charge will be identified as the creative director of the brand and will keep his own work-team.

3) The designers The question now will probably be “how an architect will create clothes?”. The architect will co-work with a selected team of designers coming from the most ground-breaking fashion academies of Europe (Central Saint Martins and Antwerp). The creative minds with support the architect and together they will develop collections coming directly from architectural sketches and realized with modern and alternative techniques of tailoring. The designer team will be updated every year with the selection of new creative-s, so to ease the turnover of young and productive minds and to permit Vionnet’s vision not to get old and to keep the innovative spirit of the new brand. 4) The engineers A team of engineers from Japan will work on fabrics research. The re-born Vionnet will focus mainly on architectural, unique pieces of art, and innovative and never seen before materials will be needed. Engineers will be recruited inside the top Japan universities such as University of Tokyo and Kyoto University, Osaka University and Tokyo Institute of Technology. The result of this cooperation between professional figures coming from different parts of the world will give life to a fashion that has never been seen before, characterized by an international spirit, young curiosity and mature expertise.



1) Haute Couture Haute Couture represents the core of Vionnet since the 1920s, and the re-launched brand will keep this element from the original DNA. Core item of the brand was, and will still be, the dress, that will be expressed in the Haute Couture line as a piece of art representing the inner concepts of Vionnet. Haute Couture will work as the manifesto of the brand, and every creation will be one unique piece, not replicable, one of a kind example and hand made product. The line between fashion and the world of art, sculpture and architecture will be ending up blurring, for the client to read this new fashion in terms of precious art. Every item will be the result of researches over innovative materials and fabrics led by the team of engineers, the creativity of the designers’ team and the intellectual vision of the architect in charge as creative director. The Haute Couture collections will show seven pieces per season, and the promotion will take place in Paris in occasion of the haute couture week both in January and August. The collection of dresses will be divided into two short dresses, three long gowns and two gowns as artistic creations. Prices will start from 10.000 Euros and will reach a maximum of 25.000 Euros. The average estimated price for haute couture creations will be 16.000 Euros. 2) Prét à Porter

The average price estimated will be maintained between 1.000 and 1.200 Euros. We conducted a research over competitors both of present and possible future and we observe that the pricing best positioning for Vionnet should be kept between Burberry Prorsum (1200) and Fendi (1000), taking in this way distances from the current average price of 1510 Euros. The present strategy doesn’t seem to be ideal mostly because of the low numbers occurred in the recall-recognition survey that we led to study the competitive advantage of Vionnet. The new brand will focus the highest prices on the dress as core item, and will keep a lower pricing for the other pieces of the line. In this way, the client will identify Vionnet as representative for the dress category and will mainly invest on the section, possibly completing the look with other suggestions of the pret à porter line. Quantities: the pret à porter line will be produced in six sizes (from Italian 38 to 46). The focus will stay for sized 42 and 44, with three styles each. 46 and 40 will have two styles and 36 and 38 one style. The brand will also show bags and accessories inside the shop: these items will match with the pret à porter collection and will represent a considerable source of income. They represent a big portion of the merchandise.

The P.a.P line will be the commercial merchandise, focused portion of the brand, that will earn the highest percentage of sold items from it. The Prét à Porter line will be the wearable translation of haute couture into day and night wear more affordable for the client both in term of wear ability and purchase. Geometry will still be the center trend of the line just like it was on the haute couture collection. The structure of the collection will be organized around an approximate average total of forty pieces divided into dresses (15, as core item of the brand), skirts (6), tops, shirts and blouses (8), jackets (5), three coats and two pairs of pants. 116




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The brand will show and sell via mono brand stores, one in Paris (to open) and one in Milan (already existing). Both shops will represent in their scenario the concept of Vionnet with a geometric style that will connect fashion with architecture. Interior design consultancy will be provided by the creative director (architect). The Paris flagship store will be located in Avenue Montaigne, where the maison was originally at the beginning of the last century (Temple of Fashion). The store will be structured in three floors: one floor for prĂŞt Ă porter selling area, one for installations, truck shows and exhibitions, and the last for the office and the showroom. The interior design will be conceived by Fuksas.

Avenue Montaigne (3 floor store)


The following table shows the calculation of the break even point regarding the opening of the new flagship store in Paris, Avenue Montaigne.



Distribution of prét à porter and rare examples of the haute couture line will also be organized through concepts stores in the European territory (10 Corso Como in Milan – Dover Street Market in London – Colette in Paris) and selected department store in the States, Russia and Asia (USA: Barney’s New York, Sack’s Fifth Avenue New York, Bergdorf Goodman, Harvey Nichols, Neiman Marcus)(Russia:

Tsum, Gum, Barvikha Luxury Village)(China: Yintai, New World, Lane Crawford – Hong Kong) Following, the list of Vionnet current clients all around the world. The list may change according to the new direction of the brand: some clients could not be present any more, and some could be added to the list in the future.


Russia (And East Europe):

Chegini, Vienna, Austria

Viktoria 46, Bucarest, Romania

Helmut Eder, Kitzbuhel, Austria Verso, Antwerp, Belgium Charlotte Aux Pommes, Brussels, Belgium Smets, Brussels, Belgium Store Marija, Zagabria, Croatia Store Marija,Dubrovnik, Croatia Jacques Loup, Cannes, France Tahiti, Ramatuelle, France Sa-Jean-Charles, Nice, France

Joyce, Kowloon - Hong Kong, China Joyce, Shanghai, China Underground, Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk (Sakhalin Island), Russia Bols, Meito-Ku Nagoya, Japan Restir, Tokyo, Japan Fashion Studio, Perm, Russia Sauvage, Almaty, Kazakhstan Jan Salon, Oskemen , Kazakhstan Planiat M, Togliatti, Russia Vionnet - Three Sixty (360 Mall), Zahra, Maria Luisa -Printemps, Paris, France Kuwait Giselle So, Paris, France Wo+Men, Volgograd, Russia Duchatel, Biarritz, France Babochka Gallery, Sankt-Peterbugh, Russia Theresa, Munich, Germany Intermoda, Nizhny Novgorod, Russia Departmentstore Q206, Berlin, Enigma, Irkutsk, Russia Germany Penelope, Brescia, Italy Week End, Rostov On Don, Russia Pasquina, Acquaviva Delle Fonti ( Bari Sobranie,Krasnoyarsk, Russia ), Italy Oleggini, Massa, Italy Maxi Ho, Napoli, Italy Montorsi, Modena, Italy Monti, Cesena, Italy Mantovani, Carate Brianza, Italy Luisa Via Roma, Firenze, Italy Luisa Rimini, Rimini, Italy

Style Elegance,Makhachkala-Republic Daghestan, Russia Vip, Kazan, Russia Ultimatum, Saratov, Russia Pervy Modny, Khabarovsk, Russia Mon Plaisir, Novosibirsk, Russia Aizel, Moscow, Russia Angel, Novopavlovsk, Russia 155

Pozzi Lei, Monza, Italy Pozzi Lei, Treviglio, Italy W09, Desenzano, Italy Unique, Gorizia, Italy Torregrossa, Palermo, Italy Tiziana Fausti, Bergamo, Italy Spinnaker, Alassio, Italy Sbaiz, Lignano Sabbiadoro, Italy Rosi Serli, Trieste, Italy Realini, Asti, Italy Ratti, Pesaro, Italy Julian Fashion, Milano Marittima, Italy Il Duomo, Novara, Italy Antonia, Milan, Italy Dante Cinque Donna, Bari, Italy Cumini, Udine, Italy Cose Di Cremona,Cremona, Italy Coltorti, Ancona, Italy Coltorti, Macerata, Italy Bini Silvia, Viareggio, Italy Berlin, Monselice, Padova, Italy Base Blu, Varese, Italy Banner, Varese, Italy Asselta, Andria, Italy Artichoke, Reggio Calabria, Italy Des Boutique, Altamura, Bari Italy 10 Corso Como, 10 Corso Como, Milan, Italy Henriette, Vicenza, Italy Gaudenzi, Riccione, Italy Gambalunga, Riccione, Italy Gallery, Forte Dei Marmi, Italy Folli Follie, Verona, Italy Folli Follie, Mantova, Italy Folli Follie, Bologna, Italy Di Vincenzo, Bologna, Italy Gente, Rome, Italy Officina, Parma, Italy Eraldo, Ceggia, Italy Femme, Avellino, Italy Plaza, Riga, Latvia Epoque, Luxembourg, Luxembourg Adonis, Montecarlo, Monaco Stivali, Lisbon, Portugal

Cati, Tula, Russia Danata, Nalchik, Russia Etaji, Krasnodar, Russia Feru, Krasnodar, Russia Gran Sfilata, Orenburg, Russia Imige, Ufa Bashkiria, Russia JoySamara, Russia Limerance, Ekaterinburg,Russia



The new logo of Vionnet represents all the values of the re-launched brand. It is simple, minimalistic, linear and geometric: it is rigorous and steady, rigorous but without renouncing to elegance and a feminine touch. It is not characterized by serifs or frills or embellishments for its functional side, but it is though light and harmonious as a veil.



1) General Average The graphs shows the average prices of Vionnet and that of the main competitors of the brand. Celine, Balenciaga and Fendi were selected according to similarity in the design style, prices and brand dynamic positioning. It can be noticed that the highest peak is reached by Vionnet during the creative direction of Goga Ashkenazi; prices are considerably high, especially if compared to high quality brands such as Celine and Fendi. Vionnet reaches the average of 1500 Euros, while Fendi is steady at 1100. It is evinced that the general average of the last re-brand of Vionnet is too high, also remembering the low level of recall-recognition of the brand compared to its competitors. The new Vionnet will be positioned in a central spot, between Vionnet before Goga Ashkenazi and Fendi, so to be more competitive both in prices and style of design.


2) Average for dresses This graphs shows the average price of dresses between Vionnet and the three competitors selected. Present Vionnet presents the highest number, and it showed to be slightly reaching 2300 average Euros for piece. As it can be easily noticed, all the competitors and even the previous Vionnet directions are stable at a much lower level. In this category the new Vionnet will have a considerable high average, since the dress is identified as the core item of the brand.


3) Average for pants This graph shows the average price for pants. Fendi peaks the first position with a high average of 900 Euros per item, followed by Balenciaga with 820 Euros per piece. Vionnet reaches the third position and presents an average much lower than those of the two previous categories, but it could be argued for this average to be still too high. Vionnet before the direction of Goga Ashkenazi reaches a lower point of 550 Euros per item: this average seems to be a much more realistic number. Vionnet after the re-branding will have an intermediate and competitive average of 700 Euros: in the graph it is positioned between Celine and Vionnet under Goga Ashkenazi direction.


4) Average for skirts The highest data belong to the current Vionnet, that presents an average of 1500 Euros for one skirt. All the competitors and the previous Vionnet are depicted in much lower positions inside the graph. As it can be observed, both Celine and Fendi do not overstep the average of 600 Euros per piece. The re-branded Vionent will have an average of 1000 Euros due to the fact that the skirt is a complementary wardrobe piece that is close in style to the dress, the core item of the brand.


5) Average for tops (tops, shirts and blouses) The highest price of 900 Euros belongs to the present Vionnet. The brand is followed by the previous branded Vionnet. The new Vionnet will be positioned right after, with an average price of 650 Euros. The three competitors are far from the first three positions by a wide margin: Celine reports an average of 420, Balenciaga of 400 and Fendi of 250.


6) Average for jackets Fendi presents the highest average among all the brands in the graph (3600 Euros). Vionnet under the direction of Goga Ashkenazi is in second position with an average of 2000 Euros; the brand is widely distant from the first competitor with a margin of more than one thousand euros. The rest of the brands are positioned inside the graph following a regular degradation. The re-launched Vionnet will have an average of 1700 Euros, and it is located in the graph between Balenciaga and the art direction of Goga Ashkenazi.


7) Averages for bags This graphs depicts the average prices for bags. Celine occupies the highest position with an average of 1900 Euros; it is followed by Fendi and by Goga Ashkenazi’s Vionnet. New Vionnet will have an average of 900: in the graph is behind Balenciaga.


8) Averages for accessories This graphs shows the averages for accessories (small leather, jewellery, sunglasses). Vionnet before the creative direction of Goga Ashkenazi peaks the highest position in the graph by presenting a high average of 450 Euros. Fendi is the first competitors after the first column, and it reports an average of 370 Euros. Vionnet with Goga Ashkenazi is third after Fendi, and it presents an average of 335 Euros. New Vionnet will have an average of 280 Euros.


9) Recall and Recognition A survey of recall and recognition among groups of interviewed was conducted in order to establish the level of brand awareness. From the survey results it is evident how difficult is the present situation of the brand. When inserted inside a group of fashion brands sharing similarities in the style and price line, Vionnet resulted to be the brand with the lowest numbers of both recall and recognitions.


Fendi was the most recalled and recognized brand among the four brand selected; Celine and Balenciaga reported respectively the second and third position in the list. This surveys proves that Vionnet is a brand that is only partially known by the average consumer, especially if it has to be identified next to much more popular brands such as Fendi, Balenciaga and Celine

10) Benchmark Graph This graph shows the dynamic positioning of the new Vionnet respect its competitors and previous re-branding. The re-branded Vionnet will occupy a strategic position,, at the right hand side of the graph, in the up-dated fashion portion of the map. The brand will create a distance from its major competitors Fendi, Balenciaga and Celine, that are located in a central and more towards the conservative side, even if still updated. Vionnet under the direction of Goga Ashkenazi is right at the opposite side of the map, if compared to what will be the new positioning of the brand, at the left hand side and peaking a high price line. According to the new pricing strategy, the new Vionnet will have more saleable prices and will be, furthermore, more updated and competitive in the design.


11) E-commerce financials The brand will add the e-commerce section inside the official web-site; this choice is partially due to the need to increment the average sales of the brand, and partially to the necessity to establish a closer and easier relationship with the on-line customer. This strategy is both connected to the communication and to the financial goals. The software required will be installed at the cost of 2000 Euros; the cost for one e-commerce manager will be of 36.000 Euros per year; the cost for two delivery managers will be of 72.000 Euros per year (36.000 Euros each). The creation of the e-commerce platform will cost 110.000 Euros in total.

Software Personnel : E-commerce manager Delivery manager Delivery manager TOTAL


PER YEAR IN EURO 2000 36000 36000 36000 110000


customer base not yet established • Lack of creative and technical support • Absence of own e-commerce strategy

The main goal of the re-launched Vionnet is first of all to increase the recall-recognition among the public. The branding strategy will work specifically on the brand awareness and will strengthen the brand DNA and its translation into the product and the merchandise. The branding session will focus on the core values of Vionnet such as innovation and intellectuality to identify the ideal target and organize event and practical action matching these values. If the promotion of the new direction will be successful, the brand will expect to see the featuring in fashion editorials increase and the recall and recognition among people both belonging and not employed in the fashion system increase as well. Broad Focus: the brand will be recognized in five years as the most innovative and intellectual brand of the fashion system, for its eclecticism and bias view over conventions. Direct Focus: following focused events and practical actions, increase the recall recognitions numbers and brand awareness between public. Being the brand internal organization already structured, the main objective will be to emphasize the message and promote the brand so to create a stronger awareness. Special focus on the communication and branding sections of work.

Opportunities: • Approach to world of arts and external disciplines. • Development of strong merchandise. • Collaborations with professional teams of different field • Adding new categories of products. • Designer charismatic personality. • New fabric and manufacturing technology • Raising awareness and promote product Threats: • New competitor enters market • Changes of fashion trends • High investments in expensive technologies and researches. • Economic downturn –difficulty in gaining credit • Rise in operating cost • Changes in import or export laws that affect pricing or supply sources - Target

Primary Target: early adopter fashion people/ intellectual purchasers. Marketing goal: to make this market purchase, in multiple quantities and repeatedly. Secondary Target: architects and people outside the fashion world that will create buzz around the new Vionnet. Marketing goal: to make this market purchase sometimes or to create buzz around brand.

1) Marketing phase - SWOT Analysis Strengths: • Heritage and know how. • Innovative concepts and business model. • Dynamic position. • Distinctive signature style • Strength of the creative and technical team working to support designers • Innovative software for creating garments (3D, architectural software) • Transversal appeal: from fashion to modern art and sculpture/architecture • HC and pret à porter. Weaknesses: • Too high pricing strategy • Low recall-recognition of the brand • Not yet built a reputation with buyers and 183

Tertiary Target: early majority. Fashion lovers adopting the trend by the early adopters. Purchasers of accessories and small merchandise pieces. Marketing goal: to approach new target groups. 2) Communication phase - Goals of communication Promotion: improve recall-recognition numbers and general brand awareness, engagement and purchase power of the client. Pricing: re-organization of the collection prices;

re-organization of the collections (haute couture – pret à porter); selection of a specific target and communication style. Branding: strengthen he brand DNA already existing, exploit the potential of the vision, mission and values.

The Brand is the Helper. Giving them information via on-line editorials and physical magazines. Invitations to exclusive exhibitions of the brand, fashion shows, small and intimate events. presence of e-commerce on the official web-site of the brand with prices and pret à porter collections.

Awareness: raise awareness. Leadership: re-establish the brand as the leader in innovation/technology creation.

The Brand is the Opponent. Dramatize the pursuit, provide a barrier or an enemy: un-wearability of the dress, limiting prices of haute couture and the scarcity of information related to it, customization of pieces that requires a long time of production. The intellectuality that requires a certain level of understanding by the side of the client.

Brand Image: increase the power of the message coming from the DNA of the brand so to reach a wider public and gain the strengthen the relationship with the already existing clients. Architect collaboration. Product: differentiation between haute couture and pret à porter lines, art and merchandise. Promotion: high intellectual events that combine the fashion and the art worlds together in one ambient. Positioning: re-branding of Vionnet defining new market, target and marketing/communication strategies. Purchase: haute couture - hyper-exclusivity, scarcity, close group of clients. Pret à porter – wearable line, affordable but linked to the haute couture concept of design. Present in selected department store, mono-brand stores (ParisMilan) and selected on-line platforms. - Structure of Storytelling Sender: Vionnet (Innovator) Object: architectural dresses - geometry concept. Intellectuality. Receiver: early adopters. Women that love fashion but also interested in many other external field (arts, architecture).

Storytelling plus action. The Brand is the Sender. Presenting ourselves as the thing that they want to be (the pleasure – honour to be intellectual and to be recognized as so. Small and restricted group of selected people able to identify themselves as part of the niche group.

The Brand is the Sender. To tell them that they already have it. “Geometry is all around humans, they only have to embrace it and look at the world through the intellectual point of view that Vionnet suggests”. “Every woman possesses the vision, it only has to be improved with the right tool – Vionnet’s fashion. If you are an intellectual, sensible and open minded woman, you buy Vionnet creations (haute couture for a statement – pret a porter for embracing every day the geometrical – conceptual vision of the brand). Vionnet in this sense is saying that: “Vionnet is a brand for intellectual, sensible, open minded person that possess a deep and profound point of view toward fashion and culture. Vionnet customers are citizen of the world, eager to expand their knowledge and to wide their inner spirit towards culture. They love to surround themselves with art and everything that enriches their souls (in other words: people like Massimiliano Fuksas, a man that sees beyond architecture and that works also in terms of poetry, sculpture; a man that travels for passions and that always tends to establish an emotional and open relationship with the people he works with). - Practical actions Brand image/ Positioning: The on-line promotion will focus on popular journalists and bloggers. The brand will carefully select the magazine where to be featured, according to the target of the magazine itself Other magazines taken into consideration will be those linked to the art and architecture world. Journalists and bloggers: Tim Blanks and Nicole Phelps from 184

Edward Barsamian, Alexandra Marshall and Julia Felsenthal from T Magazine. Alexandra Shulman, Lucinda Chambers, Francesca Burns and Emma Elwick-Bates from Vogue Uk. Emmanuelle Alt, Anastasia Barbieri and Capucine Safyurtlu from Vogue Paris. Carla and Franca Sozzani from Vogue Italy, Francesco Carrozzini. Hilary Alexander from Herald Tribune, Matt Buchanan and George Packer from The New Yorker. Antonia Sardone and Lorelei Marfel from WWD. Nina Garcia, Suzy Menkes, Glenn O’Brian, Diane Pernet, Carine Roitfeld, Scott Shuman, Tommy Ton, Stefano Tonchi. (Women’s) magazines: Io Donna, Vanity Fair, Velvet, Flair, Repubblica Donne). L’Officiel, Numero. The New Yorker, WWD, W Magazine. Vogue world wide editions, Marie Claire world wide editions. Art and architecture magazines: Wallpaper, Art in America, Artnews, Smithsonian, Surface, Black Book, Communication Arts. Hi Fructose, Mousse Magazine. Aesthetical Magazine, Apollo Magazine. The Daily Telegraph, The Guardian. Art in Berlin, Art das Kunstmagazin. ArteLab, ArtPlus, Il giornale dell’arte. Architectural Digest, Architectural Record, Metropolis Magazine, eVolo Magazine, Surface.

Recruit a personality from the artistic/ entertainment world to be the ambassador, muse of the re-launched brand (Miroslava Duma: cnf The Persona). Awareness/ Promotion: Number of events used in preparation for the first collection of Vionnet by The Lab, so to prepare the public to the concepts, inform and raise curiosity and the brand awareness. The Events: six to ten preparatory events will be organized to anticipate Vionnet’s first fashion show under the creative direction of the architect. They will be dived between photography, sculpture and architecture exhibitions, where the architect will be personally present, so to create a fusion between the world of fashion and arts and sciences. The events will be also characterized by the presence of a specific space dedicated to a small laboratory that will show in the practice the creation of details and methodologies of work. the interior design will be curated by Fuksas and his team. 185

The Fashion Show: the first fashion show of the re-launched brand will be of he haute couture collection. The show will take place at the Rodin Museum, in Paris, so to create a strong contrast between the classicism of the museum architecture and the tech-innovation of the couture collection. The space will be modern and technological but still moderated, so to leave the focus on the dresses. Interior design will be curated by Fuksas and his team. The Flagship store Third Floor: the third floor of each mono-brand- flagship store will be entirely dedicated to an expository space with the most important pieces from the haute couture collections.

Divide promotion into web and press: the first will be the focus for the youngest section of the target that was identified, the second for the mature section. Leadership: Creation of partnership between Vionnet and important expositions/ events belonging to the art/architecture/sculpture world (Ex: Biennale di Venezia). Purchase: Addition of e-commerce section to the official website

Advertisements published on fashion and art/ architecture magazines. Costs: - inside front cover = 55.000 Euros - inside back cover = 55.000 Euros - outside back cover = 84.000 Euros - first right hand page = 55.000 Euros - inside front cover + first right hand page = 126.000 Euros - summary = 59.000 Euros This investment represents a big cost but it is necessary to put the brand at the same level of promotion of all the other big luxury-fashion names. Vionnet must be present with innovative advertisements on all the most popular fashion magazines in order to increase the recallrecognition and brand awareness among the public.




1) Geometry: a social predisposition. We conceive geometry not only as a trend; in these terms, the concept that the brand will communicate will talk more about a lifestyle. Geometry is not only the act of counting numbers and observing the science applied to the everyday life, but is also defined as the three-dimensional transformation of human ideas and thought, a cubist approach that doesn’t stop at the bi-dimensional reality but that, taking a step ahead, reaches for what is next. Future and innovation. Vionnet looks at geometry as the disciplines that makes inventive sketches and drawings evolve into tangible, pragmatic pieces of art also identifiable as fashion creations. Geometry is everywhere around us, everyday and in every object in use. It defines our lives and influences our approaches and attitudes and our personality, the view each one of us has toward the world. Geometry has the power to clarify concepts that seem complicated and confused re-bringing them back to their simple form of lines and angles, cutting away frills and twists that make their speech less understandable. Geometry is a point of view for who wants to have clear ideas and wants to go straight to the point, fulfilling goals and objectives. Geometry is the capacity to be transparent, crystal, certain without spending too many words; is the faculty to be synthetic and decisive over matters and doubts. Geometry means resolution, decision, rationality, judgement, mental order; but it is also representative of creativity for being the mother of rebellious forms such as the bias, that always go against and that always connects two points that are far the one from the other, generating brilliant and wild new ideas that are nonetheless stuck to a deep logic, rooted in the DNA of every single concept. Geometry is order and crazy experimentation, it’s a science but also a natural predisposition. It’s a point of view over life, a visual filter able to simplify difficult images.

Massimiliano Fuksas is used to be heard saying “in fact, what is more difficult in life and career than the noble art of removing?”. Simplifying, reducing everything back to the spirit, skeleton nonetheless still keeping and not renouncing to an elegant representation of what is linear, squared, curved. Geometry is a style, not a trend: it is universal and links different cultures, since the mathematical language is world wide recognized and adopted to describe reality and define nature. Geometry doesn’t refer to any religion or political party because it is an individual gift, and dwells in the head of the user. It is a brain software that enables to decode the world around us according to simple rules and ratios, and it ease life by cutting off what is not necessary to the learning purpose of a given lesson. Geometry is a science that applies easily to both fashion and architecture, and translates itself into geometric shapes, bias cuts, structured patters, the weft and warp of particular fabrics, the strength and plasticity of new and innovative materials. Dresses, skirts, pants, shirts are nothing but three dimensional representation of bidimensional geometrical sketches, that from paper to textiles come to life and live their existence over people bodies, that are always positioned at the very center of the strategy of construction. Geometry is an eclectic subject always in evolution from ideas and paper plans into anything from fashion dresses, metropolis skyscrapers and futuristic Asiatic airports. Geometry is the pc we use to surf the channel, geometry is the table where we are used to consume our meals, geometry is the DNA of the Earth. 2) The Bias: a social statement If geometry represents the logic side, the structure and the rigorousness of calculus, then what about the Bias? The Bias is generated by geometry and is one of the most studied element of this science. It follows rules and possesses its own structure, but its nature, nonetheless, is to go against: from angle to angle, crossing triangles, squares and polygons, the flow of energy of the Bias fights against forces trying to hold it back. 188

Madeleine Vionnet lived a life of Bias, and moulded her career after this special, apparently rational, segment of geometry. She imposed herself for her strength and her courage, for her innovative ideas and cutting-edge visions. She wouldn’t have become part of the fashion history without the Bias, both temperamental and technical. The Bias is a special symbol: it is significant for the young people trying to conquest a segment of the world, it is fundamental for the creative minds that constantly try to invent something new and innovative and to keep the world of art prolific as it once was. The Bias is half precise and half wild, like everyone of us, and for this reason its double personality makes possible a universal recognition of its deepest meaning.


“The couturier should be a geometrician, for the human body makes geometrical figures to which the materials should correspond�

Madeleine Vionnet


Betty Kirke - Vionnet. Thayaht - Un artista alle origini del made in Italy. Jacqueline Demornex - Madeleine Vionnet. E. Morini - Storia della Moda XVIII-XX Secolo. A. Scappini - Thayaht: vita, scritti, carteggi (essay) Madeleine Chapsal – La chair de la robe. Pamela Golbin – Madeleine Vionnet. Martin/ Koda – Flair (Vionnet chapter). Centro Di – Anni 20: La nascita dell’abito moderno. Luca Fernando Caravaglia – Il futurismo e la moda. Renata del Lungo – Storia della Moda 1900-1915. Matteo Guarnaccia – Ribelli con stile. Ada Gigli Marchetti – Dalla crinolina alla minigonna. 100 Contemporary architects. 100 Contemporary houses. Contemporary architects vol. I, II, III. Contemporary Japanese architects vol. I and II.

Pietro Carlo Pellegrini – Piazze e spazi pubblici. Architetture 1990-2005. Philip Jodidio – Architecture in Japan. Philip Jodidio – Mario Botta. Philip Jodidio – Tadao Ando. Brooke Hodge and Lisa Mark - Skin and Bone. Arnt Cobbers, Oliver Jahn and Peter Gossel – Prefab Houses. Evugeni Kortin – Russian avant-garde.



"REBRANDING VIONNET" - Fashion Brand Management 2012/2013 Major Project - Polimoda Florence  
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