Madame Gres, Paris

Who is Madame Grès? my heterosexual male readers will be asking. A woman of great talent who used her creativity to create fashion that proved to become timeless and an inspiration for many designers who followed.

French couturier Madame Grès exhibition La Couture à l’Oeuvre is being exhibited this summer in Paris in the former studio and gallery of one of France’s prolific sculptors, Antoine Bourdelle. It is a good fit, Madame Grès was originally trained as a sculptor and went on to become a fashion designer.

Madame Grès aka Alix Germaine Krebs. Her husband abandoned her and she had one daughter. Resourceful and determined she managed to keep working during the second world war when she went into the country and still found ways to make clothes with restrictions on purchasing fabric.
There are 80 pieces presented in this exhibition, from private collections and the Galliera Museum (fashion museum) in Paris, the one that is never open!

I am feeling inspired to start making clothes again.

I have seen this yellow dress in black and made longer. Backless is always sexy.

A signature of her work was to create negative spaces, on the body, for the flesh to be revealed. Much of her clothing was made from a fine flowing crepe de chine or fine jersey, mostly in a single colour. When she did use a patterned fabric it was quite bold and sometimes outlandish. The galleries at Bourdelle Musee have some classic Greek and Roman figures and some of her dresses work perfectly being displayed in such company.Why wasn’t I born in France and able to afford her clothes. I can only dream.

Hundreds of little pins fix the muslin fabric on the dressmakers dummy. Bias cuts and draping were her trademarks.

As we walked around the gallery we were able to take in some of the works by Bourdelle and other sculptors who used the studio. We saw two sculptures of Polish poet Adam Mickiewicz – and just off topic for a moment, a couple of years back we stayed in a building in Paris where Mickiewicz lived.  Turning another corner we saw another connection to the sculptor Alexandre Falguiere – a recent post of mine shows one of his famous sculptures that we have in our current apartment. Our education of French 18th and 19th century art and figures in literature continues. This orange and brown dress is very wearable today.As are these red dresses, if it wasn’t in black or subtle pastels it was bold. Madame Grès could work with any colour.The mannequins are made like the ones you can buy in artists supply shops – articulated wooden doll like figures.

Day and evening cocktail wear. Many of the supporting records of her work are on loan from the Pierre Berge YSL Fondation.I photographed an open page of her client workbook, names of famous women and their measurements neatly recorded, there is a photo of it in the slide show. Paloma Picasso is in the middle of a princess and a socialite. There is a photo of singer Barbra Streisand wearing one of her assymetrical designs.The mannequins are placed on wood stands used by sculptors.

I love this very wearable pink and black collection. I have a pink pashmina I hardly wear anymore, I think I will go home and make a hoodie just like this one.This exhibition also featured some jewellery made for Madame Grès.

Highlights of her career :  Madame Grés, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1994.

Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur, 1947; Dé d’Or award, 1976; New York University Creative Leadership in the Arts award, 1978. 

Alix Germaine Krebs known as Madame Grès died  24 November 1993, in the South of France though not made public until December 1994.

These photos are only a few so if you want more, I have created a slide show of all the photos I took – click on slideshow.

This website has practical information if you would like to visit the exhibition and some good close ups of the clothes.

Read more: Madame Grés – Fashion Designer Encyclopedia – clothing, century, women, dress, style, new, body, history, dresses, costume, world



  1. #1 by bagnidilucca on May 9, 2011 - 8:54 pm

    Beautiful – they look so modern.

    • #2 by tastetravel on May 10, 2011 - 5:27 am

      Easton and Pearson would like this exhibition.

  2. #3 by maryd on May 9, 2011 - 9:14 pm

    Fantastic exhibition. I think I might copy the brown dress – very wearable today..

    • #4 by tastetravel on May 10, 2011 - 5:25 am

      Mary you can go online and buy old patterns, I am sure I saw some of Madame Gres available, would have been Vogue patterns.Worth a look, the exhibition had some on display. Roz

  3. #5 by Barbara Heath on May 10, 2011 - 11:44 pm

    beautiful Roz, I love the orange and brown dress!

  4. #6 by hanadi merchant on September 10, 2012 - 6:55 am


    I freelance for a luxury liifestyle and fashion magazine in India called Atelier. I was doing a peice on historic couturiers and was featuring Madame Gres as one of them. I came accross your website and saw your lovely pictures of the Madame Gres exhibit. I was wondering if you would be able to share some of them with me for the article and the magazine can give you photo credit in return.

    I do hope you can help me.

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