The Vionnet fall/winter 2017-2018 collection read like a dossier on New Guinea’s 39 species of beautiful birds. Each bird was accounted for and shown somewhere in the collection.
So much planning went into the collection that even the location had layers of meaning to it, which although easy to find in Milan, was very apropos. The show was staged at the Casa Degli Atellani, a vineyard of Da Vinci’s that was given to him in 1489, and the details in Da Vinci’s methods of classification served as the unifying factor between the location and the birds of paradise inspired fashions. Every bird shown was classified; even their information was used in the collection to add another element of beauty to the looks.
Goga Ashkenazi really dove into her theme, embroidering birds of paradise onto some of the ensembles. She created prints of the 19th century edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica so that fully illustrated and recorded observations of the birds were printed onto both pajamas and silk lamé dresses.
The dresses are dramatic, amazing and point blank beautiful. A denim skirt cut from an original Vionnet pattern offered a blast from the past that also connected with another source of inspiration that influenced the aesthetics of the collection. The Vionnet fall 2017 ready-to-wear collection is well rounded in this way, full of stunning color artfully balanced to keep them from becoming overpowering.
Not only was Goga Ashkenazi inspired by the birds of paradise in New Guinea, she was also inspired by a picture of the Vionnet Atelier staffed by women and a tooling factory staffed by women. She put the emotions she felt from the pictures into her designs as well, a sort of ‘girl power’ moment incorporated into the designs.
This was also supposed to be the spark of the inclusion of ‘workwear’ into the collection, though certainly not the type of workwear worn by the actual working women in the picture. Perhaps she meant it to unify and the concept was nice in thought, but it was amusing that it would not serve much as a bridge between the two different classes of women in the pictures versus those who will purchase the Vionnet clothes.
All in all, the Vionnet fall/winter 2017 collection was beautiful as expected, and the details and touches were well intentioned and also resulted in equally beautiful and poignant moments in the collection. The stunning and dramatic flow of the clothes was reminiscent of a breeze further pushing home the point of the birds of paradise inspiration. Not only is the collection a delight visually, but also the intellectual component, especially for those who are interested in or have a love of birds.
Photos courtesy of Vogue