Madame Gres, Forgotten Fashion Icon Who Made Gowns Fit For Goddesses, Gets Her Due at a Paris Museum

Madame Gres, Forgotten Fashion Icon Who Made Gowns Fit For Goddesses, Gets Her Due at a Paris Museum

Manyparallels can be drawn to Gabrielle "Coco"Chanel and Madame Grès: Both spoke very little about their upbringings, startedtheir fashion careers in millenary, going on to become the great couturièresof the 20th century. Sadly, of thetwo, only Chanel's name remains a part of the present-day fashion zeitgeist,as Madame Grès, who passed away in 1993, slowly fades into fashion history, due in part toher namesake business failing after she sold it in the 1980s.

ThroughJuly 24, Musée Bourdelle in Pariswill display some 80 of Madame Grès's creations for the exhibition, "MadameGrès: Couture at Work." A master of the art of draping, Madame Grès used herbackground in sculpture to create gowns fit for Grecian goddesses. Modern-daygoddesses like Marlene Dietrich, Greta Garbo, and Jacqueline Kennedy flocked tothe publicity-shy couturière to clothe them.

Born in Paris in 1903, GermaineEmilie Krebs desired to be a sculptor. After failing to garner success, sheventured into millinery, soon changing her name to Alix Barton. It wasn't until1942 that Krebs created the name Grès, a partial anagram of her then-husband'sfirst name, Serge, to launch a new design house, Grès. Shortly after, peoplestarted calling her by the name that she would carry for the rest of her lifeas one of the masters of haute couture: Madame Grès.

Included in theexhibition are 100 drawings and 50 photographs from the Madame GrèsArchives, and the draped evening dresses that earned the first Dé d'or (anaward honoring haute couture designers) in 1976, which were photographed by GuyBourdin and Richard Avedon.

Visit MuséeBourdelle to admire Madame Grès's fabric sculptures and get a glimpse insidethe world of this mysterious grand sculptress and legend of haute couture. PierreBerg,longtime partner of Yves St. Laurent, credited Madame Grès for launching his own foray intofashion, saying, "Madame Grès is one of the reasons why we went into fashion."