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96/386/2 Evening dress, bias cut, silk jersey, designed by Madeleine Vionnet, Paris, France, c.1930. Click to enlarge.

Evening dress by Madeleine Vionnet

Designed c.1930
This silk jersey evening dress, designed by Madeleine Vionnet in Paris, France in 1930, is significant both as an example of the work of one of the 20th century's most innovative designers and for representing the key elements of her style, including her use of the bias cut technique (cutting diagonally across the grain of the fabric so the fabric clings to the body's natural curves) and the unadorned elegance of her drapery inspired by classical statuary.

Vionnet (1876-1975), was renowned for her experiments with fabric. As observed in this dress, the straps, jewelled with aquamarine and clear faceted glass stones, set into metal mounts, are a typical Vionnet innovation combining jewellery and fabric into the one design. Vionnet was a superb technician and invented new pattern making techniques. She conceived her designs in three dimensions by draping fabrics on a small wooden model rather than sketching them on paper.

Vionnet can be compared in many ways to Gabrielle 'Coco' Chanel and Paul Poiret, for her contributions to freeing women from layers of underclothing and corsets. Vionnet said, "I have tried all my life to be a physician of the figure?I wanted to impose on my clients a respect for their bodies, the habit of exercise and the practice of strict hygiene which would rid them forever of those artificial armours that deformed them". She aimed to make comfortable clothes that fell freely on the body using the shoulders and waistline as natural 'anchoring points'. For example, on this particular evening dress, the bodice is suspended by embroidered cross-over straps and the skirt falls from a gathered waist.

This dress is also significant as it forms part of a larger collection of costume and dress dating from 1910-1960s acquired by Australian fashion designer, Mr Chris Jacovides. Within this collection, the dress helps to demonstrate the specialist skills and techniques that are the backbone of the fashion industry.

Melanie Pitkin
Assistant Curator, Design & Society


Object No.


Object Statement

Evening dress, bias cut, silk jersey, designed by Madeleine Vionnet, Paris, France, c.1930

Physical Description

An evening dress made of cream silk jersey with a gathered cross-over bodice consisting of three panels with a low cut back, skirt is cut on the bias into shaped panels. Jewelled shoulder straps are decorated with glass corals and crystals set in metal mounts, dress has waistline fastening concealed in right side seam.


Label attached to skirt seam: 'Madeleine Vionnet' with signature Vionnet thumbprint



1550 mm


740 mm





Designed by Madeleine Vionnet, Paris, France. Made in France, c.1930. Maker unknown.



The Vionnet dress was purchased by Chris Jacovides from a local dealer.

The Jacovides collection was put together by Chris Jacovides, a Sydney couturier and costume collector. The collection comprising 135 items of women's clothing and accessories from the period 1910 until the 1960s, represents the work of influential overseas and Australian designers. The National Trust of Australia (NSW) purchased the collection from Chris Jacovides in 1976 with the plan of establishing a museum of costume in Sydney. This did not eventuate and with permission from the museum the National Trust was able to store the collection with the Powerhouse museum for a period of ten years from 1980.


Credit Line

Purchased 1996

Acquisition Date

3 December 1996

Cite this Object


Evening dress by Madeleine Vionnet 2020, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 31 May 2020, <>


{{cite web |url= |title=Evening dress by Madeleine Vionnet |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=31 May 2020 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}

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