Sculptress of Haute Couture

“I wanted to be a sculptor. For me, it’s the same thing to work the fabric or the stone” Madame Grès. In fact Madame Grès was trained as a sculptor before opening her own couture house, Alix at 83 rue du Fauboug Saint-Honore, which she renamed “Madame Grès” in 1942.  

L. Grecian gown designed by Madame Grès R. Madame Gres Images: Google

Her working methods involved bias cut, wrapping and drapery. She preferred to work by wrapping, twisting and draping the fabric directly on to live models.

Madame Grès Draping a dress, C. 1945 Photo credit unknown

The pleating was created by hand and stitched together. The result was her signature look of floor length draped Grecian goddess gowns.

Image: Google – Madame en Peluche

The introduction of cut outs became a feature of her gowns. Care was taken in their construction to ensure the wearers felt comfortable and secure without restricting movement. The idea was new to couture and was soon adopted by other designers. Such was her attention to detail, a gown could take up to 300 hours to complete.

Madame Grès had an extraordinarily long career, working from 1942 until the late 1980s. Throughout this period, which encompassed huge changes in fashion, her work remained consistent and timeless. 

Image: @, Stéphane Piera / Galliera / Roger-Viollet

“Simplicity and elegance are never boring. you can never get enough of them, and one single detail manages to suggest that touch of gaiety only you have.” Madame Grès .

Madame Grès clients included everyone from royalty to movie stars. Some of her more famous clients were the Duchess of Windsor, Paloma Picasso, Grade Kelly, Greta Garbo and Marlene Dietrich. The New York Times called her couture house “the most intellectual place in Europe to buy clothes”.

Image: Elegancepedia

Madame Grès ‘ styling continues to be as relevant today as it has been since the mid nineties. The timeless design of her gowns could comfortably place them on any red carpet today.