I was drawn to scan this incredible piece by her today, and when I looked at my post from 2011 I realise that it was one of those I photographed. Well, I pretty much photographed them all, but it was one of the chosen ones for my post. And although my tastes and style have changed somewhat since then, I would still count an original Madame Grès as my holiest of holy grails.
I am returned from Paris! It was all perfectly wonderful, plenty of wandering (some aimless, some not…), drinking, eating and all other lovely things. I will blog a little more about events on my birthday, but I thought I would start off with the visual feast that was the Madame Grès exhibition at the
Musée Bourdelle. Everything about it was a treat. The museum itself is a fantastic space; a mixture of old studios and purpose built exhibition spaces. The Grès pieces have been inserted within the permanent exhibition, and also in larger dedicated sections. You weave your way through the numbered rooms, which seem to go on forever (which is wonderful, unless you’re slightly concerned about catching your Eurostar back home…but we still managed to soak it all up!).
I have to emphasise how much of a honour it was to be able to see the dresses up close. I mean, really up close. Everyone was respectful of the ‘do not touch’ signs, so often a problem in the UK I fear, and it shows off the dresses to perfection. Grès was a designer who was all about the detail, the finest pleats and the most delicate of stitching. I couldn’t stop snapping; quite frankly, I think I forgot that I wasn’t photographing listings for my website (I should be so lucky!).
My favourite designers are always those who rarely move with the winds of fashion. Idiosyncrasy is my favourite word. The exhibit cleverly juxtaposes her early pieces with the later ones, as well as with Bourdelle’s sculptures – since sculpture was her inspiration and, I think, her vocation. I should have made more notes about dates, but I can tell you that the one immediately below this text is from 1980 (just before she went bankrupt, her House was sold and her archives destroyed). At the top of the page, the two tomato-red jersey dresses are twenty years apart in production. It’s extraordinary, and to be admired. Her skill was unmistakeable, it didn’t need to follow trends or chase notoriety and scandal.