Nine haute couture Vionnet gowns saved from export

  • 16 November 2009

The Art Fund today announces its £102,527 grant towards the acquisition of nine historically important haute couture gowns for three UK museums. The dresses were designed by French couturier Madeleine Vionnet (1876-1975).

The V&A, London; The Bowes Museum, Barnard Castle; and the Fashion Museum, Bath are now the joint owners of the dresses, after an export stop was placed on them. This is the first time an export stop has been placed on examples of 20th century couture and the first time three British museums have jointly acquired a collection of dresses.

The three museums, which all hold nationally important fashion collections, formed a consortium to raise the funds needed to purchase the gowns, and came to The Art Fund and other funding bodies for support.

Andrew Macdonald, Acting Director of The Art Fund, said: "These exquisite dresses reveal the astonishing cut and design of Madeleine Vionnet’s haute couture. Her innovative construction techniques and skilled manipulation of fabric have inspired many of today’s leading fashion designers. Sharing the collection between the three museums is a wonderful way of allowing more people to see Vionnet’s distinctive style as well as the sumptuous tastes of Lady Foley and The Art Fund is thrilled to have helped save them for the nation."

Four dresses join the V&A’s collections; three dresses were purchased by The Bowes Museum and two by the Fashion Museum in Bath.