Madame Grès, or Else Germaine Émilie Krebs
Born in 1903, Germaine Émilie Krebs wanted to be a sculptress. However, her parents did not allow her to pursue this career. So, she quickly switched to fashion, where she could apply her sculpting skills. In 1932, she opened her haute couture house, La Maison Alix, along with her business partner, Juliette Barton. During the decade when the fashion house was operating, Madame Grès found her signature style. She developed the drapery technique, which became her trademark.
It was exactly the drapery artistry and the fact that she sewed the gowns directly onto the models that made her famous. A contemporary of Coco Chanel, Elsa Schiaparelli, and Madeleine Vionnet, Madame Grès became an haute couturier of equal fame and glory.
Even though she was forced to close her fashion house during World War II, she did not stop creating beautiful garments. As soon as the war was over, she reopened her fashion house, under her signature name. Madame Grès retired only in the late 1980s, and soon after that the fashion house closed once and for all.
Madame Grès, The Art of Draping
The Art of Draping displays a carefully curated study of the designer’s day and evening gowns, as well as various ensembles and cocktail dresses, exhibited as if they were on a theatre stage. The exhibition also shows never-before-seen portraits of Madame Grès by the photographer Horst P. Horst, as well as vintage prints by Fondation Azzedine Alaïa.