Passionate about art, costume, history and heroic women, Victoria Bonnamour has decided after twenty years spent in major fashion and beauty houses to combine her passions by transcending them in her clothing brand, Bonâme.
I dare not call Bonâme a ready-to-wear brand, as both its founder and its philosophy are original. Far from fast fashion industry and nauseating commercialism, Bonâme carries the values of transmission, legacy, filiation, succession. And these values are not empty words for Victoria, you will quickly understand why.
Victoria carries the artistic fiber of a great-great-grandfather who was a painter, Félix Desgranges but also the artistic spirit of a great-grandmother who was a sculptor, Germaine Desgranges.
Félix Desgranges and his family, by Prinet
Germaine, who was a student of Antoine Bourdelle and who participated in the decoration of the Champs-Elysées Theater, was undoubtedly a talented sculptor, but her artistic impulse was quiclky stopped by marriage, motherhood and then widowhood. Married in 1913 to a naval commissioner, Daniel Blavier, she was widowed in 1916, WWI taking away her husband. In 1921, she married Philippe Besnard, a sculptor who was a student of Auguste Rodin.
Antoine Bourdelle and his students – Germaine stands behind, she has a black bow on her blouse (I absolutely adore Germaine’s strong and unconventional character which shows in this picture)
The child with a bird by Germaine Desgranges
Philippe Besnard, Germaine’s second husband
Germaine may have quickly stopped sculpting but she evolves, thanks to her second husband, in a family of artists. Her mother-in-law is the sculptor Charlotte Dubray and her father-in-law is the painter and academician Albert Besnard. Her sister-in-law is a sculptor and her two brothers-in-law are painters and ceramists.
Germaine may have quickly stopped sculpting, but she poses as a model for her father-in-law (“Germaine Besnard and her daughter Anne”, Albert Besnard, 1930), her husband (“Bust of Germaine Desgranges, polychrome plaster”, Philippe Besnard, 1929) and her painter friends René-Xavier Prinet, Bessie Davidson and Jeanne Simon.
Germaine Desgranges by her husband Philippe Besnard
Germaine Desgranges by her husband Philippe Besnard
Germaine may have quickly stopped sculpting but she will carry out the publication of her husband’s memoirs after his death.
This strong artistic ancestry and the memory link that Victoria maintains with Germaine, her silent muse, probably explain the location of the Bonâme workshop in the heart of New Athens, which was the artistic epicenter of Paris in the 19th century, bringing together writers, musicians, painters and sculptors. The museum of Romantic Life and the Gustave Moreau museum are not far from the Bonâme workshop and this artistic and historic proximity is certainly not trivial.
Of all the forms of artistic expression, costume attracted Victoria most intensely: she took up sewing and model-making lessons, designed a 19th century collection and started her line of period costumes.
One thing leading to another, Victoria developed her own line in ultra-short circuit, with quality fabrics from dormant stocks of haute couture houses or stocks of old fabrics.
The name of her Bonâme (“good soul”) brand, a nice play on words in French with her family name Bonnamour (“good love”), evokes the beautiful and the good, which enrich beautiful souls.
And in fact, we hardly talk about fashion when it comes to Bonâme. Bonâme is about style, reinstates clothing in its roots and in its history, builds a bridge between past and current garments, highlighting their timelessness. For instance, the Bonâme “Juliette” dress evokes the French Empire era, itself strongly inspired by Antiquity.
Bonâme creations are feminine, elegant, precious and very structured. And the attraction for beautiful clothing must run from generation to generation, since Germaine – Victoria’s silent muse – was already executing sketches of elegant women in the 40s.
But beyond the tradition of historical costume and the filiation that unites Germaine to Victoria, Bonâme bears another heritage: that of past heroines. Bonâme is inspired by the dress codes specific to some of past great women, reinterpreting them in a modern way to celebrate a strong and timeless femininity.
The Bonâme “Juliette” dress mentioned above obviously refers to Juliette Récamier, whose Parisian literary and political salon was so powerful that Napoleon, who became Emperor, put her on the road to exile.
The beautiful puffed sleeves of the “Sand” blouse evoke the strong personality of George Sand, the only French female writer of the 19th century recognized as an author in the same way as her male colleagues.
The “Claudine” collar evokes French writer Colette, who had to fight to recover full credit for her first novels, published under her husband’s name.
Bonâme is irrigated by the memory of strong women who fought to be seen and heard. Bonâme is also probably irrigated by a silent and bittersweet tribute to Germaine, who had to give up her passion for sculpture when she faced a difficult life as a widowed mother.
Wearing such pieces of clothing today builds a bridge between these women and us – and strengthens the feminine filiation that binds us to them. If clothing may be considered as a modern armour, the appropriation of the dress codes of these past heroines invests us with their strength. Wearing Bonâme means claiming, discreetly but surely, this feminine heritage.
As I wanted to pay homage to Victoria and her great-grandmother, here I am in a “Germaine” outfit. The beauty of the modern world has made this sculptor, little known in her time, live again today thanks to the talent of Victoria and maybe also a little bit to this article which will be read, thanks to the Internet, all around the world.
November 11, 2022
Germaine blouse and skirt by Bonâme – Gucci heels – A vintage coat older than I am – Lanvin purse – Chanel necklace – Agnelle gloves – Apostrophe leather belt