Madame Grès (Alix Barton) (French, Paris 1903–1993 Var region)
Length at CB: 60 in. (152.4 cm)
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 Gres' 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. Well known for her classically inspired, form-fitting, silk jersey evening gowns, which she introduced in the 1930s, she also used silk taffeta to create dramatic, sculptural shapes. In an early example of Gres' experimentation with gathered and poufed forms, she uses the fabric's crisp body and light sheen to create a smooth columnar gown. She then contrasts that simple, empire shape with voluminous sleeves that spill from the shoulders in a flood of fabric, nearly engulfing the wearer's hands. She would return to this concept throughout the 1970s, continually modifying her renditions of billowing taffeta.