Blue Velvet and Chiffon Gown over a Copper Slip, 1935
This gown has a floral coupe de velvet design on a blue chiffon background. It has a sweetheart neckline, shirred waist and belt, gathered sleeves and a broach at the neckline. The dress is worn over a copper-colored slip giving the dress a unique coloring. Both the dress and slip are bias cut, designed to hug the body and create draping.
This dress embodies key stylistic elements of the 1930s, which represented a marked departure from the 1920s clothing trends. The silhouette of the 1930s was softer and more sophisticated than the harsh angles of the 1920s. Rather than continue the dropped-waist, most dresses fitted closer to the body with a natural waist. Hemlines dropped creating a long, sleek body line. Using the technique of cutting delicate fabrics (such as silk and chiffon) on the bias, designers created fluidity that allowed graceful movement of the garment.
Regarded as “Queen of the bias cut,” Madeleine Vionnet is credited with inventing and popularizing the technique of cutting cloth diagonal to the grain of the fabric. Cross cutting the fabric allows it to cling to and move with the curves of the body. The style developed by Vionnet dominated 1930s fashion. Many Hollywood actresses wore her dresses including Marlene Dietrich, Katharine Hepburn and Greta Garbo. Demonstrated through her bias cut gowns, Vionnet believed that,“when a woman smiles, then her dress should smile too.”