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Preserving Vionnet

In Vogue today there is a story on the upcoming Vionnet exhibit:

DRESSES in desperate need of mending nowadays tend to be binned or, if they are very lucky, taken to the tailors for a quick fix up. Not so the delicate creations of legendary couturier Madeleine Vionnet, some of which are currently being prepared for a Parisian exhibition.

"This dress is really ill and will necessitate 60 days of restoration without any certitude of being able to save it," Maximilien Durand, director of the restoration department at Les Arts Décoratifs declared to WWD. The Madeleine Vionnet retrospective is set to open in Paris on June 18, displaying pieces from throughout the late designer's career from 1912 to 1939, but before then there is work to be done.

The biggest problem for the restoration team has been the delicate nature of Vionnet's fabrics (principally silk crepe, tulle and muslin) and embellishments. The designer, known as the originator of the bias-cut, donated over 100 dresses to the museum in 1952 along with patterns and photographs depicting how they should be worn - but the real work is internal rather than superficial.

"Vionnet's [thing] is not about little bows and ties, but construction, and we have to understand how to tackle that problem," explained Pamela Golbin, curator of the exhibition. "These dresses, that were worn for one evening 70 to 90 years ago will be exhibited on mannequins for [eight] months. The [new linings] are attached in such a way that, if a piece cracks, it's the new bit that gives and not the original fabric."

I think that most of the viewing public has no idea of the lengths the restoration teams at a museum go through to save important pieces for the world to be able to see and learn from. One dress will take 60 days to restore. That is astounding in a world where items are whipped up in hours.

As a collector of vintage and someone who obviously is strongly biased towards the opinion of preserving fashions of the past, I also found the opening line of the story to resonate with me, but in quite a different way

DRESSES in desperate need of mending nowadays tend to be binned or, if they are very lucky, taken to the tailors for a quick fix up.

How true and how sad.
We live in a world where to cast things off is not only the norm, but the decree.
"If you have not worn it in a year, it has to go"

Is that not in every closet cleaning/organization article you have ever read?

Half the girls I know do not even know where a tailor's shop is never mind actually consider themselves to have a relationship with one. The gluttony of mass production on the world has given rise to a sense that clothing is disposable. And it often is. But it's nice to know that there are still pockets of people that are willing to put the effort into making sure important pieces survive.

1 comment:

Rosie Unknown said...

I should note: While I do clean out my closet fairly frequently, and carefully consider each piece of clothing, if it doesn't fit, I don't like it, ect, it does go. But not to the garbage. Oh no! it gets handed down to my sister, sent to other relations or friends, or sent to the Salvation Army. So just because it isn't in my closet, doesn't mean that it's in a landfill.

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