milan – The Vionnet brand returns under new owner Simheres with a project titled „Vivid Memories of the Future” and a capsule collection available online on Saturday.
The first of three series, the collection is part of a new and „unprecedented creative project that marries society and technology,” Vionnet's president, Philippe Camberio, argued in an interview in his Milan office.
The capsules were created as a tribute to founder Madeleine Vionnet's stylistic codes and are „steps that lead us to a first-of-its-kind creative project that invites and engages a community that experiences fashion through technology: The Vionnet Way,” said Campario.
He explained that it relies on „the interaction between society and technology, the sharing of talents and experiences” to restructure storied brands from a traditional formula, usually including a fashion show. „The starting point of this process is co-creation, breaking down the barriers between the brand and its audience,” Camberio noted.
The company is “integrating an artificial intelligence platform that builds automatically, collects and interprets the data we receive from this group to further refine and determine what Madeleine's story is in today's world. It's not just fashion, it's a lifestyle. „The aim is that with the next three packages, we will have a fourth, which will be the official release of Vionnet in the summer of 2024,” he said.
„Through these three capsule collections, we want to reach out to specific audiences and communities, engage with them beyond the product, and create a specific audience that we want to call a collective and go with us on this journey. The three capsules are really more ambassadors than anything else,” Camperio noted.
The project is consistent with the founder's revolutionary ideas in the first half of the 20th century based on his social wars, women's rights, and intellectual property rights. The rebirth of the house is based on his pioneering and innovative spirit, the entrepreneur said.
In April last year, Simharus Investment Holding acquired all of Vionnet, which will revitalize the luxury brand and become a new European luxury fashion and lifestyle pole.
The investment vehicle was formed by Chimera Abu Dhabi and Hares Capital, and it bought a majority stake in Zagato, the storied car designer founded in 1919, and Fogel, a Swiss underwear brand founded in 1921 by Leon Fogle. In addition, Hares folded its majority stake in Porcellino, a historic hat manufacturer founded in 1857 in Alessandria, Italy, into the new vehicle.
Simhares is led by Comperio, who founded Hares Capital in 2011 as CEO.
He appointed Antonella Di Pietro, who has built her career with brands from Tommy Hilfiger to Tod's, as Vionnet's CEO and chief commercial officer.
He explained that the first capsule will revisit Vionnet signatures, paying tribute to the designer's „incredible expertise”, draping and geometric patterns with twisted fabrics or asymmetric mohair knits. A viscose minidress is fringed with trimmings—another Vionnet staple. „The weights in the broderies in Dal are very light, the knits almost transparent, because Madeleine Vionnet was a pioneer in freeing women to avoid restricting the body,” Di Pietro said. „The sizes of the knits are almost as large, but much lighter, and the ponchos are also airy.” Three stunning pieces of vintage custom jewelry revisited for the capsule.
Knitwear costs between 800 and 1,200 euros, skirts around 1,700 euros and dresses around 2,500 euros.
The French haute couture label, founded by Madeleine Vionnet in 1912, has experienced some financial setbacks in recent years. In 2018, the brand and its operating company NVO Srl went into voluntary liquidation.
Koka Ashkenazi, president and creative director of Vionnet, took control of Vionnet in 2012, when the Kazakh entrepreneur bought the fashion house from co-owners Matteo Marzotto and former Marni CEO Gianni Castiglioni. The duo first invested in Vionnet in 2009 with the aim of giving the French label new life.
Ashkenazi took over as creative director in the fall of 2012, following the departure of sisters Barbara and Lucia Croce at the end of August of that year, curating several fashion shows in Milan. Before the Croce sisters, Vionnet was designed by Rodolfo Paglialunga, who was tapped by Marzotto and Castiglioni.
„Reminding the world of Madeleine Vionnet,” Camperio said, „is who she was, what her vision was, her values,” and „what would her perception of the world be if she were alive today?” he asked himself.
He argued that the project is „more than fashion, it's a message we want to share and communicate and the collections are Madeleine's empathetic approach to the world.” So all three capsules have a theme, but the underlying message is to really make Vionnet a desirable brand, it has a message that goes beyond a product.
He emphasized Vionnet's modernity, one reason “why we don't follow the fashion calendar. I knew the reboot had to be disruptive, innovative and visionary because that's what Madeline Vionnet was at the time. We have taken over as new owners with the intention of maintaining it. It is our responsibility. Each year there are many capsule drop collections, but done as a theme rather than a trend. We're going to commercialize our products mainly on our website, at least through 2024.
He doesn't have physical points of sale, but syncs with the concept of limited editions, perhaps pop-ups in major cities, most likely starting from Paris.
Camperio said the fund is „in the process of acquiring more brands” and that the „uniqueness” of legacy brands is „absolutely important to us.” He believes the Vionnet brand has never been damaged under former honors even in recent years.
„I like to go where others won't or can't. When we look at a brand, we want to see something that others don't. And that requires a lot of thinking outside the box and reinventing models. But in any case, we never look at the brand to seek more volumes or flood the market.” Don't cannibalize; we're not interested in that.
„Totalny pionier w sieci. Specjalista od piwa niezależny. Ewangelista popkultury. Miłośnik muzyki. Nieprzepraszający przedsiębiorca”.