Goga Ashkenazi

MILAN “We needed to send out a strong signal, we needed to take a break because we will go through a major restructuring, which will be highly disruptive,” said Vionnet chairwoman and creative director Goga Ashkenazi, commenting on her decision to voluntarily liquidate Vionnet Srl and the operating company Nvo Srl. “We will completely reorganize the production, maintaining it in Italy while developing relationships with artisans.”

The company declined to provide financial details about the liquidation.

Ecological and social responsibility will be at the core of the new Vionnet, as imagined by Ashkenazi, who while understanding the delicacy of the moment, also expressed her excitement for the new course she is paving for the brand.

“We are negotiating with investors that can accelerate our move toward sustainability,” she said, adding that the company’s headquarters will remain in Milan.

Innovation won’t only impact the manufacturing aspect. Ashkenazi also revealed that Vionnet — which is expected to disappear from the fashion radars for one season, “maximum two” — will no longer present during the traditional fashion weeks, but the brand will focus on the development of “conceptual collections transcending fashion and its fixed schedules,” she said. In keeping with this vision, the brand’s Paris store located on Rue François 1er is expected to be revamped.

Looks from the Sustainable Surf collection by Vionnet x Marc Quinn

Looks from the Sustainable Surf collection by Vionnet x Marc Quinn.  Courtesy Photo

Ashkenazi expressed her interest in sustainability in May, when she unveiled an eco-friendly capsule collection developed in collaboration with artist Marc Quinn. In particular, Ashkenazi, who is a major art collector, looked to Quinn’s “Raft Paintings” series, which features rafts made from colorful plastic bags, and created a 340-piece Sustainable Surf lineup of coats, dresses, blouses, trousers, cardigans, sweaters, hoodies, jumpsuits and T-shirts.

“That was just the first step, but I actually realized we should have completely restructured the company to be absolutely credible in our revolution,” said Ashkenazi. “Being trendsetters, being people influencing other people’s decisions, I think we have the responsibility to commit to the sustainable cause and try to have an impact on this world.”

Ashkenazi took control of Vionnet in 2012, when the Kazakhstan entrepreneur acquired the fashion house from co-owners Matteo Marzotto and former Marni chief executive officer Gianni Castiglioni. The duo invested in Vionnet in 2009 with the intent of giving new life to the French label established by Madame Madeleine Vionnet in 1912.

Ashkenazi took over the role of creative director in fall 2012, following the exit of sisters Barbara and Lucia Croce at the end of August that year. Before the Croce sisters, Vionnet was designed by Rodolfo Paglialunga, tapped by Marzotto and Castiglioni.

In September, Vionnet, which in past seasons invested in prestigious locations for its events during Milan Fashion Week, skipped the usual runway show to unveil its collection with a more subdued presentation hosted in the garden of Ashkenazi’s house in the heart of Milan.

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