The sculptural fashion of Madame Grès
If you happen to be in Antwerp, Belgium this winter be sure to check the gallery dedicated to an important fashion visionary at Mode Museum. Until February 10th, 2013, MoMu presents “Madame Grès. Sculptural Fashion”, an exhibition of the Parisian couturier’s designs.
An example of uncompromising vision Germaine Emilie Krebs (1903– 1993) is known as the pioneer of seamless garments. Trained initially as a sculptor she carried her artistic sensibilities to the fashion world, making a name for herself with draped and pleated breathtaking evening dresses. Mostly in flowing silk jersey Madame Gres’ Hellenistic gowns clothed European aristocracy and Hollywood divas including Marlène Dietrich, Greta Garbo, Vivien Leigh, Duchess of Talleyrand the Princesses of Bourbon-Parma or the Duchess of Windsor.
First shown in 2011 at the Bourdelle Museum in collaboration with the Fashion Museum Galliera in Paris this design retrospective gathers Madame Grès’ works mostly from the Gallièra collections as well as some private ones along with photographs by Cecil Beaton and Henry Clarke and the designer's original sketches and drawings.
The gallery classically inspired minimalist settings, created by Belgian artist Renato Nicolodi enhance the sculptural quality of Madame Grès high fashion designs.
Madame Grès also created unique daytime garments with splendid volumes and shapes using the same techniques of draping, pleating, bias-cut that took hundreds of hours of manual work. As Bill Blass once declared: fashion, a technical craft, becomes art only in the hands of Mme Grès or Balenciaga.
She held tightly on to her haute couture mark, despising mass production and commercial artifices, creating for discreet and refined women like herself. Her life and career knew many ups and downs: named president of the Chambre Syndicale de la Couture Parisienne in 1970 and awarded with the first Dé d'or prize (Golden Thimble) in 1976, Germaine Emilie Krebs was forced to sell her fashion business in 1984 and ended up impoverished and forgotten but her timeless, sculptural creations will inspire artists and designers for many years to come.
image credit @ www.momu.be, Stéphane Piera / Galliera / Roger-Viollet