A Close Comparison Between Madeleine Vionnet and Elizabeth Hawes of The 20th Century

Madeleine Vionnet had a successful career as a fashion designer. Born june 22 1876 in France, trained in London before returning back to establish her fashion house in 1912.Madeleine Vionnet 4


Known as the Queen of the bias cut, she was one f the top designers between the period of 1919 and 1939. she had outlets in both New York and Paris.

Madeleine Vionnet was an activist who fought for revolutionary law practices like maternity leave, paid holidays, sake care, resident doctor and dentists for her workers. she also advocated for copyright laws in fashion. Unlike Coco Channel, she was not one to make media appearances, she lived a private life and constructed her designs in miniature sizes on tiny dolls before transferring them on life size manequines.

Madeleine was artistic in her approach to designing and made use of atypical fabrics like satin, crepe de chine, gabardine in her designs. She is believed to have had influence on designers like Issey Miyake, Ossei Clark, Comme Des Garcon and the likes. Some of here works can be found hereherehere and here

Elizabeth Hawes  born december 16 1903 was a fashion designer, fashion critic, activist for gender equality, journalist and author.Elizabeth Hawes 4

In July 1925 she moved to Paris and worked as an illegal copier of haute couture dresses. in 1926 became a sketcher for a New York manufacturer of mass produced clothing and in summer that year, became a full time correspondent for the cosmo newspaper  syndicate.

Hawes was also a regular contributor at Detroit Free Press, New Yorker, New York Post and Baltimore Sun. Hawes also worked for Nicole Grouit as a designer and her styles were inspired by Madeleine Vionnet. In october 1928, opened Hawes-Harden at West 56th street New York in collaboration with Rosemary Harden but soon sold off her share of the company in 1930.

Hawes was a major fashion critic during her time, Some of her publications include: Fashion is Spinach 1938, Men Can Take It 1939, Why Is A Dress 1942, Why Women Cry or Wenches With Wrenches 1943, Hurry Up Please Its Time 1946, Anything but Love: Feminine Behaviour From Birth To Death 1948 which was available in print, film and on air, But Say It Politely 1954 and Its Still Spinach in 1954.

Just like Madeleine Vionnet who made dresses that allowed for free movement of the female body and shape devoid of corsets, Hawes was am advocate for women to wear trousers. She was an activist for sexual equality who felt in other for a good home to be achieved, the husband and wife should both play equal roles in the home making process.

As opposed to Madeleine Vionnet, Elizabeth Hawes liked to draw media attention through her publications. She was the leader of the committee for the care of young children in Wartime where she campaigned for child day care centres.

In 1948 Hawes tried to relunch her fashion house by opening a shop at Madison Avenue which was unsuccessful and also attempted relunching the fashion house in 1954 in California but without success Her designs can be found hereherehere and here

I believe Elizabeth Hawes had both french style and American style to her designs. She spent two years in Paris producing illegal copies of haute couture designs and selling off to non-french speaking customers. She also would taxi the produced copies and send them off to New York. She attended fashion shows were she would memorise designs and soon after sketch out those designs to be replicated. She served as a first hand spy during the period France was the only determinant of style and fashion to the rest of the world. I believe she developed an American style to her designs when she turned a new leaf upon her return to New York. She became an advocate for American inspired designs. She also gave speeches in places like Moscow where she advised against countries copying styles from other countries.


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