After years of stops and starts, new designers and relaunches, billionaire entrepreneur Goga Ashkenazi became the sole proprietor of Vionnet at the end of 2012. And while she's not a designer by trade, she has installed herself as the house's creative director, bringing on a team of designers to assist in making her ideas a reality.
For the past two seasons, Ashkenazi has succeed in two ways. One, by focusing on draping more than anything else: Madame Vionnet is famously credited with introducing the bias cut to high fashion, so a Vionnet collection without the technique would feel entirely inauthentic. Her other win? Consistency. The look is specific: whether she's designing a gown, or a pair of leather trousers, it's obvious these clothes work for Ashkenazi's jet-setting lifestyle. Whether she's out and about for business or pleasure, she likes to look polished and professional.
But are the clothes special enough to make real headway in the market? For fall 2013, the black blazers were cool, especially with a pistachio green lining peeking out. As were those aforementioned leather pants. With a super high waist and a relaxed fit, they're perfect for wearing on a glamorous plane trip. A lot of it, though, did not work. Belts adorned with massive Elsa Peretti-style beans reminded us of wrestling belts. And the Big Bird yellow fur wasn't as fun as the version Simone Rochas showed in London. Instead, it seemed out of place.
Ashkenazi has poured a lot of money into Vionnet. But does she have it in her to make the house finally matter again? We look forward to watching her try. Given her deep ambition--she bought her first company at 24--we doubt she'll be giving up any time soon.