Goga Ashkenazi has been at the helm of Vionnet since the middle of last year. She had no formal design training before she presented her first ready-to-wear collection for Spring 2013. But lack of experience has done nothing to dampen her ambition.

Maybe she’s feeling emboldened by the red-carpet coup she landed at Cannes; Carey Mulligan wore the black and white finale number from the Fall Vionnet collection to the Inside Llewyn Davis premiere. Today, Ashkenazi presented what she’s calling a new demi-couture collection for the label. “We figured out how to make the dresses more affordable but use the same couture techniques,” she said. Through eliminating “the endless fittings” and selling by size with a single fitting at the end, Goga and co. have shaved one of the zeros off the end of current couture prices; the pieces will go from $ 10,000 to $ 30,000, rather than the hundreds of thousands of dollars that true made-to-measure creations can sell for at other houses.

That’s good news for customers, but there was a wrinkle with the new launch. A shipping snafu forced the team to remake ten of the eleven dresses in the collection in forty-eight hours. (The presentation was originally scheduled for yesterday.) Four other designs couldn’t be produced in the short time period because they weren’t able to source the fabrics. The fact that Ashkenazi made it happen at all is further testament to her ambition, and deep pockets.

With the exception of a lace bodysuit embellished with dripped resin that looked remarkably like encrustations of tiny seed beads, these were event dresses. From understated to less so: a red plissé gown with black tube beads embroidered at the waist and in piles at the shoulders, a green hourglass column with a built-in cape and feathers stitched into the shape of a dragon on the bodice, and a tent dress with sheer gazar insets and matte sequin embroideries meant to mimic the spines on a dragon’s back. A bit much, that one. The best of the bunch came in nude silk and a draped emerald green laminated matte satin with a papery hand. Its skirt was in dégradé plissé, but it nonetheless caught some of the cool minimalism of Mulligan’s Cannes number.
—Nicole Phelps
Runway Feed

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