Madame Grès (French, 19031993)
White silk jersey; L. at center front (a) 55 in. (139.7 cm), (b) 39 in. (99.1 cm)
Gift of Mrs. Byron C. Foy, 1956 (C.I.56.60.6a,b)
Unlike postclassical artistic citations of undone chitons, with their angled breast-exposing drape, many fashion designers have adopted the asymmetry of the neckline, while retreating from the full exposure of the breast. Grès' approach to fashion, as evidenced by her body-skimming designs of the 1930s, could not have been more different from Christian Dior's 1947 "New Look," which revived a wasp-waisted silhouette not seen since the end of the nineteenth century. However, even Grès, whose signature medium was a supple silk jersey, embraced the fashion for a structured underbodice introduced by Dior's hourglass style. In doing so, she was able to create pieces of increasingly complex drapery and pleating by tacking her difficult medium onto the rigid form of the shaping underbodice. Her lacing of a gold lamé ribbon, which articulates the separate, vertically draped panels that run unbroken from neckline to hem, alludes to the girdling and quiver straps seen in classical renderings of Artemis.