Madame Gres ~ 1903-1993 Fashion Designer

Biography of Mme. Grès, fashion designer

Madame Grès (her maiden name Nee Germain Barton), was born in Paris. Her full name was Germain Emile Krebs. Very early in her education she became interested in music, dance and art. Her favourite interest developed into sculpture and she intended this to be her career. Madame Gres had a single minded passion for her work which she developed into one of the  greatest female fashion designers of her generation.Read more ?

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1949 Madame Grès

Her family had other ideas and introduced her to a Clothing Buyer, who praised her fine artwork. Eventually she became an apprentice to a Couture House called Premet. They were known for geometric designs for sports and evening gowns.

Here she began to use muslin as a pattern, which she cut, pinned and tacked directly to the live model’s figure.

In 1934 she moved to 83 rue du Fauboug Saint-Honore, with business partners and preferred to use the name of Alix, this name lasted for 6 years. At this time she again moved on setting up her own Fashion House independently.

Painting of Madame Grès – 1948

In 1942 Madame Grès opened her Fashion House in the fashionable address of l rue de la Paix. Her husband Serge Czere Fkov signed his paintings “Grès”. Using this name she was established.

In 1940 Paris became occupied, so difficult times were ahead for her. Causing a storm with the Germans Mme. Grès showed her first fashion collection in the patriotic colours of France – red, white and blue. In protest they closed her down for l year.


Patriotic colours

After this period she was determined to carry on and worked tirelessly 365 days of the year. She produced 350 fashions using her individual method of designing, perfecting this in detail from fine muslin. Making the fall of the folds with her hands the un-pressed pleats were then stretched into place, making them appear to be woven into each other. The fabric fell from the pleating to the floor evolving into graceful folds.

When it was completed, the muslin pattern was taken directly from the model and made into the garment by her staff. Her staff called her Madamoiselle. These assistants, most of whom had been with her for decades, understood her exactly and produced just the coat or dress that Madamoiselle had in mind.

A sculptured look evolved to the finished clothes, showing her influence of classical Grecian draping and flowing lines. The textile favourites were matte finish Jersey, Silk crepe, or Mousseline de soie. Another way she designed for many garments, was to use the fabric bias cut to produce a beautiful effect.

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Madame Grès with her model 1946

Madame Grès is again with her model adjusting the hem of this beautiful gown. An excellent painting in strong colours.

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Artist: Benito – 1946

Two stunning gowns have been found depicted in these images.

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1947 Artist: Bernard Blossac. Grès & Dior

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1954 A lady in pink

The 1960’s brought a high focus on a new modern images. Tergal textile Advert. showing this very smart style.

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1962 Classic modern dress

An unusual tailored shape evolved in the cut of this top, with circular edges and short sleeves.

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1962 Rare suit with stylish gloves

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1962 Suit textile Advert.

Madame Grès progessed to designing jewellery for Cartier, she produced perfumes and designed hats.

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1962 Coat textile advert

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1962 Spotted Dress textile advert

1962 A spectacular” Wedding Gown” showing two views of the same dress designed by Madame Grès.

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Elegant Wedding Gown 1962

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1962 Side view of Wedding Gown

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Making a grand entrance

Ann Grès her daughter recently gave an insight into the remarkable life of her mother, describing the difficult events preceding her virtual disappearance from the limelight of the fashion world.

The composure of a ballet dancer and French elegance was captured in her photos. The paintings of her capture her great love of her art and her strong determined character.

A Couturier of individualism throught her working life for nearly half a century, she achieved international renown with her exquisite timeless, and elegant designs. Truly a 20th century Lady Fashion Icon of France, not to be forgotten.

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