Madame Grès - Paris Couture from the 1930's

Madame Grès - Paris Couture from the 1930's
The spell cast over Sleeping Beauty’s castle comes to mind when silken gowns are kept company by the habitants of the Musée Bourdelle, heroes and warriors in suspended animation. Nestled into a residential quarter of Paris near Montparnasse, the red brick building once sculptor Antoine Bourdelle’s home, now a museum dedicated to his work, is hosting an ephemeral exposition of the tucked and pleated designs of couturier Madame Grès. It will linger until the end of August when the spell is broken and the dresses slip back into their places in the vault of the Musée Galliena, Paris’ fashion museum.

Encased in glass, the dresses are strewn one or two to a room in a discombobulated parade. My favorites, a knife-pleated number in Kelly green jersey and a long Grecian dress in Hermes orange stand in the dark panelled space of Bourdelle’s atelier among a pompadour coiffed bust and heavy antiques propped here and there like forgotten treasures gathering dust in a great aunt’s attic.

Madame Grès whose lifetime spanned the last decade (1903-1993) often wore a turban but never her own dresses. She spoke with poise and the aloof air that an even voice insinuates. Her intricately worked, asymmetric designs accompanied by their sketches and fashion photographs present the timeless output of her Paris workshop.

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