Madame Grès (Alix Barton) (French, Paris 1903–1993 Var region)
Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of the Brooklyn Museum, 2009; Gift of Mrs. William Randolph Hearst, Jr., 1988
Not on view
Madame Alix Grès' career spanned five decades and throughout them all she excelled in her ability to manipulate fabric and use its innate characteristics to enhance her designs. She is best known for her classically inspired, form-fitting, silk jersey evening gowns, which she first introduced in the 1930s. By the 1970s, she was experimenting with silk taffeta, using its crisp lightness to create looser, more geometric shapes as well as adaptations of regional costume. Her Summer 1979 collection included a dhoti-inspired day dress. Here, she revives her use of that form, further stylizing its appearance. The skirt is still bifurcated, but that detail is subsumed within flowing drapery. Grès often added revealing slits or carefully placed cutouts to her designs; here she leaves the sides of the skirt open. As the wearer moved, the shifting fabric revealed a pair of legs clad in thigh-skimming boy-leg shorts.