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., 1989
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. Well known for her classically inspired, form-fitting silk jersey evening gowns, in the mid-1960s, Grès began experimenting with geometrically cut pattern pieces to create more free-flowing designs. As part of her Winter 1976-77 collection, she produced an ingenious gown that is a study in circles. By reproducing that shape in a bias cut, the skirt falls in full, loose, graceful pleats. The bodice is also a circle, albeit one with an open neckline and strategically placed back ties. It folds over the shoulders and extends to the upper back, forming a curved shawl collar. The stiffness of the taffeta gives the shoulder folds a stiff, three-dimensional look, while the partially exposed back illustrates Grès' penchant for body-revealing details.