#CNILux: Goga Ashkenazi on Reviving Vionnet

For Goga Ashkenazi, taking the reins of the fabled fashion house Vionnet in 2012 fulfilled a childhood dream. But, as the businesswoman told Suzy Menkes on the first day of the CNI Luxury Conference, adopting the house was not all plain sailing.

“Every day was a challenge at first, because it is a huge responsibility carrying a heritage brand like Vionnet … I certainly was not prepared for every challenge I had to face, but that’s the beauty of taking a risk like that – you have to react to things that come up. Not having much support at the beginning, being an outsider to the fashion world, and approaching it in a different way, I’ve made mistakes and I’ve learned from them and I know what Vionnet means today: craftsmanship, elegance and creating fashion that is timeless – mindful fashion.”

“It’s a huge challenge to be a female in the fashion industry”

Another ongoing challenge is the industry’s gender divide, one in which the house has an important role, Ashkenazi says. “It’s a huge challenge to be a female in the fashion industry and in other industries … Most powerful people are male. For women in fashion, whether we like it or not, we are the minority … There comes an understanding from being a woman that is not open to all of the men. There is the importance that Madame Vionnet was a woman, and there is the importance that I am a woman.”

Now that she has established her position in the driving seat, she is clear about the direction she wants the house to take. “I don’t want to make a short-lived brand that is going to have a heyday,” she smiled. “I am trying to continue the culture that Madame Vionnet established in 1912 when she started her brand.”