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Madeleine Vionnet (French, Chilleurs-aux-Bois 1876–1975 Paris)
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Gift of Mrs. Harrison Williams, Lady Mendl, and Mrs. Ector Munn, 1946
Not on view
"Mrs. Harrison Williams was a chef d'oeuvre, breathing a rarefied air of mystery, like some undine or goddess from another world who yet chooses to dress in the height of fashionable conventionality."
In December 1933, Chanel, Lanvin, Lelong, Vionnet, Balenciaga, Molyneux and Mainbocher named Mrs. Harrison Williams the "Best Dressed-Woman in the World." Like Lady Mendl and the Duchess of Windsor, she possessed an inconspicuous elegance, which she achieved by choosing the clean and subdued lines of Vionnet and Balanciaga. Vogue observed, "She never orders the 'successes' in a collection, but instead, the costume which is noticeable only on second glance."
Mrs. Harrison Williams' style and beauty have been immortalized in art, music and literature. In "Ridin' High" Cole Porter sang "What do I care if Mrs. Harrison Williams is the best dressed woman in town." In Truman Capote's Answered Prayers, she was the model for the character Kate McCloud.
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