Two violinists, a cellist and a violist playing haunting music were in the spirit of dresses on the runway that exuded calm and charm. This was the moment that Vionnet finally became a viable, rejuvenated brand.
It has taken a while for the liquid beauty of Madeleine Vionnet's style from nearly a century ago to come back in contemporary fashion. Goga Ashkenazi, who set out to revitalise the house, has achieved her goal — by not trying too hard to be 'modern'. She ran out at the end of the show to take a bow with a group of designers, including Hussein Chalayan, whose understanding of shape and drape must have helped to create these easy, ethereal clothes.
The two crucial elements for putting Vionnet on track were transparency in the fabric and the relationship of material to body shape. Those came together when a dress in stagnant-water green poured pleated chiffon down the body to an ankle-length hem. With no fancy twists or turns, the effect was fluid elegance. Flat shoes — not always but as an acceptable proposition — made the Vionnet collection feel au courant, even if it was dedicated to woman as nymph.
A few dresses, in their transparency or in a sporty bareness, prevented the collection from looking too historical. So did the insertion of soft trousers with an ease of movement. The modernity was in the mix of shapes and fabrics — the history in fine handwork, almost invisible on the runway.
With so many couture names from the past being resuscitated — Paul Poiret is the latest, the brand having been bought by a South Korean investor — it is still going to be a tough sell to convince an increasingly picky luxury customer that Vionnet has anything different to offer. But eveningwear-light — the clothes that sophisticated customers are looking for — is the fast track to success.