The oeuvre of Madame Grès

Her carefully conceived shapes and draping moulded on the female figure almost like sculpture, says Colin McDowell
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Boris Lipnitzki, Model wears collection by Madame Grès (November 1935)

1 / 11 Boris Lipnitzki, Model wears collection by Madame Grès (November 1935)

Boris Lipnitzki, Madame Grès in a fitting for Macy's (1933)

2 / 11 Boris Lipnitzki, Madame Grès in a fitting for Macy's (1933)

Madame Grès, Evening Gown (circa. 1976)

3 / 11 Madame Grès, Evening Gown (circa. 1976)

Madame Grès, Evening Dress (back) (Autumn 1974-1975)

4 / 11 Madame Grès, Evening Dress (back) (Autumn 1974-1975)

Willy Maywald, Model wears collection by Madame Grès (1939)

5 / 11 Willy Maywald, Model wears collection by Madame Grès (1939)

Madame Grès, Evening Gown (circa. 1947)

6 / 11 Madame Grès, Evening Gown (circa. 1947)

Studio Dorvyne, Model No.102 wears collection by Madame Grès (Winter 1934)

7 / 11 Studio Dorvyne, Model No.102 wears collection by Madame Grès (Winter 1934)

Madame Grès, Day Dress (Spring 1946)

8 / 11 Madame Grès, Day Dress (Spring 1946)

Madame Grès, Cocktail Dress (Autumn 1950)

9 / 11 Madame Grès, Cocktail Dress (Autumn 1950)

Arik Nepo, Model wears collection by Madame Grès (1938)

10 / 11 Arik Nepo, Model wears collection by Madame Grès (1938)

Eugene Rubin, Madame Grès next to model (circa. 1946)

11 / 11 Eugene Rubin, Madame Grès next to model (circa. 1946)


Madame Grès was an enigmatic figure. Beginning her career in the twenties, she was a reclusive but dedicated legend for the coterie of fashion insiders over the decades. Her oeuvre is now the triumphant subject of an exhibition in Paris, which showcases her creations (until 28 August). 

Customers of Madame Grès loved the flattery of her carefully conceived shapes in silk, wool and taffeta, but she will always be remembered for the brilliance of her draping, based on the classic Greek style. It was not like today's machine made draping - which swirls around the body in not always flattering horizontal swathes - but hangs vertically, falling softly from the shoulders, caught gently at the waist and flowing free to the ground. And totally flattering to any figure type because everything Grès made was draped and moulded on the figure, almost like sculpture.

It is appropriate then, that the show is held at the Musée Bourdelle, in the studio of the nineteenth century sculptor Antoine Bourdelle, for the woman who trained as a sculptor.

 

Read Colin McDowell's review of the exhibition.


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