Today, the word “drape” is practically synonymous with the design aesthetic of Lanvin’s designer, Alber Elbaz. However, long before Elbaz there was Alix Gres, the expert in draping who was more commonly known as Madame Gres. Madame Gres was a haute couture designer whose attention to detail and creativity in fabric positioning will be forever unmatched. Her garments are romantic, feminine, and perfectly constructed. An iconic fashion designer, Madame Gres set a standard in fashion that focuses on a minimalistic approach.
Madame Gres maintained a true devotion to her work and virtually nothing else. She never wore her own designs, and instead always donned simple and functional clothes, along with her signature turban headpiece. Initially, Madame Gres dreamed of becoming a sculptor, but her parent’s opposition to this career inevitably kept her from pursing it. Instead, she chose fashion as her medium, and dedicated her life to creating perfectly sculpted dresses. The loss of a potentially incredible sculptor in the art world, was the gain of an even better designer for the fashion industry.
I had the opportunity to visit an exhibition of Madame Gres’ work in Paris at the Bourdelle Museum. The Bourdelle Museum is a small, intimate museum in Paris where the sculptures of Antoine Bourdelle are displayed. Since sculpture was a passion and tool for Madame Gres, this choice in venue was perfect and very fitting. The Madame Gres exhibition takes you through the entire museum, where her work stands alongside immense marble sculptures. I found it very interesting the similarities between both crafts, and how one compliments the other.
Below, see some of Madame Gres’ remarkable work:
[photos sourced from parismusees.com]