Madame Grès is often a mysterious figure in the fashion industry but the exhibit: Madame Grès, la couture à l'oeuvre, at the Bourdelle Museum in Paris pulled the veil of obscurity back a bit to reveal a couturier of great talent. The exhibit displayed her garments as well as he sketches, and photographs of her work making clear mark on fashion.
Madame Grès’ skills spanned draping, tailoring, and sewing at their highest level. Her gowns were perfectly executed and her dresses lay smoothly. The beauty is in the detail of her work. Madame Grès was a frontrunner of the movement toward using jersey in night and day wear as opposed to only using jersey for men’s undergarments. This formerly hidden textile is made graceful as she gathers meters of fabric into several centimeters of drapes. This use of jersey has now led to use of jersey for every type of clothing for both day and night in current fashion. Her faux-fur jumpsuit was avant-garde and unique. Unfortunately the back of this could not be viewed and so curiosity about the closure of the garment remains. The bows, folds, and colors seen were stunning, from bright yellows, oranges, and even several different primary and secondary blocks of color in one gown. Madame Grès use of innovative textiles for her work of the mid-20th century can serve is an inspiration to designers today to continue striving for innovation and excellence.
Knowing that Madame Gres worked directly on the body or on a mannequin, at times probably somewhat unconventionally, helps her often-unknown work to become clearer. She had a unique understanding of the movement of the female body and how the bone structure, muscles, and shape worked together. She carefully celebrated the female body, sometimes by covering it almost completely and other times by cleverly revealing it.
After seeing the work of Madame Grès, her continued influence on current fashion can be recognized in the seemingly ever-present draped jersey dress as well as in more elegant runway designs. While Madame Grès has been shrouded in obscurity, her legacy lives on in her influence on today’s fashions. This exhibit is very informative on the work of a couturier who is rarely recognized though its setting amongst the works Bourdelle makes it necessary to be very thorough in order to not miss a single piece.