The 60 sketches, on display at the Poldi Pezzoli Museum in Milan in conjunction with fashion week, also pay tribute to the French design house's long bond with Italy.
Madeleine Vionnet designed strictly on 80-centimetre (31-inch) mannequins, which allowed her to achieve the proper draping and three-dimensional effect on the body. The designs are rendered into drawings by Thayaht, an Italian artist born Ernesto Michahelles, who invented the iconic Italian blue worker's jumpsuit. They depict a bold tunic with an asymmetrical shawl top and drop-waist black gown with a red-and-brown sash.
The French house founded in 1912 was purchased in 2008 by Matteo Marzotto and Gianni Castiglioni, who recreating the French brand with Italian quality. They have brought on as creative director Milan-based Russian designer Goga Ashkenazi, who has kept up the house's tradition of designing on mannequins.
"In order to maintain the heritage of the house, working on mannequins is indispensable," Ashkenzai said at the opening this week. "Working on a mannequin allows you to experiment directly with the material and come up with new patterns. Once the mannequin work is perfected, sketches and patterns can be produced."