Madame Grès

Madame Grès



Her family indulged her fascination for the arts, particularly sculpture. However, they put their collective foot down at allowing her to become a sculptor. The introduction to a family friend turned her mind towards the world of fashion and design. As they say, the rest is history. She apprenticed herself to Premet, a couture house known for surface decoration with geometric design. This is where she learned dressmaking. She eventually got restless and moved out on her own. She had silent partners in Alix Barton Couture, as she called her fashion house. Over time troubles arose with these partners, so she left Alix Barton Couture and the name Alix, behind. The silent partners owned the copyright to the name. It was at this point that she took her husband’s nom de brosse of Grès. Shortly after this move, her husband left her, but she retained the name. Her assistants called her Mademoiselle.

She first opened her house under the name Grès in 1942 during the Occupation of Paris. Her first collection was based on the colors of the French flag and the Germans were so incensed, they closed her down for one year.

Madame Grès’ early training in sculpture is quite apparent in her classical Greek draping of the female figure. She tries to make the figure look its best, to look beautiful. She is known to make a waist look thinner, a bust look higher, to create a bit of mystery about the figure beneath the fabric all the while draping the fabric closely to the body.