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Madeleine Vionnet’s name is not as known among the fashion crowd as Coco Chanel’s, but it actually should be. Thanks to Madame Vionnet we have perfect cuts that compliment a woman’s figure. The diagonal cut, a technique for cutting cloth diagonal to the grain of the fabric enabling it to cling to the body while moving with the wearer, was invented by her. She became nearly a hundred years old (1876-1975) and was one of the leading French designers of her time. She, unlike many others, was not a self-taught couturier, but was an actual seamstress (this might explain her profound knowledge of cuts and why she is called the architect among the designers). Her grecian style dresses therefore also had cuts that were ready to be “mass” produced. Among her costumers were Marlene Dietrich, Katherine Hepburn and Greta Garbo. The house of Vionnet was revived by a Kuwaiti business man in 2002 and sells demi-couture dresses now.

If a woman smiles, her dress must also smile.

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The most inspiring words by Madeleine Vionnet for me were not her famous one liner, but her thoughts on achievers:

We can be rich, talented or lucky, but I firmly believe that a successful life is made up of every day’s patient work. Life is a staircase that we walk up steadily with a pause once in a while…a breathe, a look back at what we have accomplished, some people remain in the “plains” all their life because they are too indifferent or simply too lazy. Personally, I have always looked forward and upward, and today I enjoy the panorama of my life.

If you are in need of a new coffeetable book, have a look at this one by Issey Miyake.