Byline: Patricia McColl, April 1969

“They remember me.”
The way Madeleine Vionnet says it, it is a fact. Not a question.
“Speak to any dressmaker and they’ll tell you. ‘There’s one Madeleine Vionnet. Only one.’ Now you see it. Only it’s too late. I’m going to be 93 next June…nearly a century. So fashion is finished for me. I think of it by habit. When I was a dressmaker, I did what I felt. I never copied anyone. I was a dressmaker. I knew how to make a dress with my own hands….”
“I tried to make [women] look tall and slim. But to be elegant…that’s something else. First of all, it’s the shape of the woman. If you are born plump, you can be pretty, you can be well dressed but you can never be elegant.
“Well shaped. That’s tall and thin. Plump,” she chuckles, “says what I mean.” She likes the sound of the word so she repeats it three or four times…”plooomp… plooomp…”
“I’m old. But not my spirit. I stopped at 40. That’s all…and that’s more than 50 years ago. In fact, my spirit isn’t old. I feel young as much as I can. You can feel old, but don’t say it.
“I only approve of and like a nice spirit. A young spirit. Keep young as much as you can. I’m doing it myself. If you say you are old, it’s because you can’t express yourself.”