“Each dress she makes is a masterpiece.” -Christian Dior
Madame Grès was a legend of Paris fashion. Born in 1903, Germaine Emilie Krebs originally intended to become a sculptor. Her family was opposed to the idea, but her formal training as a sculptress proved to be a valuable asset. This artistic training would greatly influence her design aesthetic. Many of her designs resembled classic Greek and Roman sculptures. She was also the first to design dresses with cutouts.
Madame Grès opened her own fashion house in 1934 under the name Alix Barton Couture, which she later changed to Alex Grès Couture. In 1942, it would simply be called Grès. (The name Grès was a partial anagram of her husband’s first name and artist alias.)
She was an extremely private person that despised mass production, which is why she wasn’t as well known as her contemporaries, Chanel, Dior, Lanvin and Shiaprelli. Those that did know her work knew that it was of the finest quality with impeccable tailoring. She created her designs by draping and sewing instead of sketching. The pleating in the gowns were done by her own hand, using as few seams as possible, despite sometimes using 20 yards of fabric for a single gown. The same attention to detail and tailoring was apparent in Grès’ day wear collections. Her designs celebrated the female form with elegance and sophistication.
Madame Grès sold her business in 1988 and died in obscurity in 1993.