Our International Womens' Day herione: Madeleine Vionnet 1876-1975

Mde Vionnet began her apprenticeship at age twelve as a seamstress, in turn of the century France. This is perhaps why in 1932 when she acquired a new five-storey building, housing 21 workshops, producing garments, shoes and accessories, she installed a clinic equipped with both doctors and dentists and a gymnasium. Madeleine employed what were considered revolutionary labor practices at the time, also providing a canteen, maternity leave, paid holidays and daycare. The house of Vionnet grew to employ 1,100 seamstresses!


After an early marriage and the tragedy of a death of her child, she left her husband and went to London to work as a hospital seamstress, where she learnt about mass-production.

On returning to Paris, she trained at the fashion house of the Callo Soeurs where she learned about the bias cut. Madeleine is often credited as the inventor of that cut, which did upset her very much, because she never claimed herself that place in history! But she did expand the use of the bias cut to perfection, draping over the body to create fluid designs which changed womenswear forever.

Always innovating, Madeleine introduced fingerprinted labels: each garment produced in Vionnet studios bears a label featuring Vionnet’s original signing and an imprint of her right thumb.

In 1939, when WWII started, Madeleine closed her house, never to reopen it again. She lived to the age of 99 and died in 1975. An inspiration to designers and creatives to this day!

We are eternally inspired by her and our Swing Tops are in part a dedication to her modern thinking and her bias cut

That's it for a bit!

Love Danielle and Michelle