That Grecian draped dress that you love was probably inspired by Mme. Gres!
Most eyes may be on the Alexander McQueen retrospective in New York, but don’t miss this exhibition from one of the masters in fabric draping.
If I could only have just one vintage couture piece, something from Madame Gres would be on my wish list.
The extraordinary and timeless designs of this French couturier are on exhibition in Paris. Richard Nahem takes us there. –S.H.
Madame Gres was one of the great couturiers of the 20th century with a career spanning over 50 years. Born in 1903, Gres trained as a sculptor and later said that working with fabric was the same as working in stone.
She was most famous for her exquisite and intricate draped creations, many of them influenced by Greek sculptures. Madame Gres opened her couture house in 1942 and worked with the dedication of a monk till 1988; always refining and perfecting her craft.
Even though she was legendary at draping, interestingly enough, Gres didn’t know how to sew. Although she was Jewish, the Nazis allowed her to keep her atelier open during WWII, but she refused to dress the the wives of the Nazi officers.
She worked mostly with silk jersey, which was the ideal fabric for her wearable masterpieces. Jackie Onassis, Greta Garbo, Grace Kelly, Marlene Dietrich, and the Duchess of Windsor were loyal clients and many of today’s designers are highly influenced by Gres including Azzedine Alaia, Issey Miyake, and Yves St. Laurent (Pierre Bergé stated "Madame Gres is one of the reasons why we went into fashion").
A long and overdue celebration of her work at the Musée Bourdelle, the former home and studio of sculptor Antoine Bourdelle, it’s a fitting backdrop for Mme. Gres’s fabric sculptures. Over 80 of her designs are in glass vitrines set against the massive Bourdelle sculptures.
The exhibit also features some of her daytime looks of coats and suits in addition to her sumptuous evening gowns and cocktail dresses.
Fifty original photographs including ones by Guy Bourdin and Richard Avedon, and a hundred drawings from the Maison Gres Archives, have been donated to the museum for this retrospective by the Fondation Pierre Bergé–Yves Saint Laurent.
This is a must-see exhibit and put it on the top of your list of things to do in Paris. — Richard Nahem, The Paris Insider
Visit in Paris
Till July 24
16 rue Antoine Bourdelle,15th arr.
Open Tuesday to Saturday 10AM-6PM