Musée Bourdelle, Paris
25 March through 24 July, 2011
16 rue Antoine Bourdelle, 75015 Paris
+33 1 49 54 73 73

This exhibition at the Musée Bourdelle is the first Paris retrospective of the work of one of the great masters of couture, Madame Grès (1903–1993). Regarded by her peers as the tutelary spirit of the profession, Madame Grès constantly said throughout her life: ‘I wanted to be a sculptor. For me, working with fabric or stone is the same thing’. Her quest led her to the ancient world, but also to North Africa and India. A fifty-year journey from Hellenistic sculpture to the intransigent minimalism she pioneered in the fashion realm.

Madame Grès’ sculpted dresses could therefore not have a more fitting showcase than the Musée Bourdelle, in an exhibition bringing together some eighty creations from the Musée Galliera and private collections, and fifty original photographs. By 1933, the designs of Germaine Krebs, the future Madame Grès, had already made a name for themselves at the Alix couture house. In 1942, she opened her own couture house, Grès, which she directed until 1988. Pursuing her ideal of the seamless garment, she invented an original and deliberately timeless economy of line and volume transforming the female figure into a goddess.

Madame Grès, Couture at Work gives pride of place to her most emblematic pieces: the draped evening dresses for which she received the Dé d’or award in 1976. Created from the 30s to the 80s, always in jersey and often ivory or pearl grey, these sculptural dresses have radiantly withstood the test of time. Photographed by Richard Avedon and Guy Bourdin, they were widely featured in women’s magazines. Her day wear – the dresses and coats of the 50s and the purified designs in double-sided wool of the 60s and 70s – are still an inspiration for couturiers and designers today. The art of Madame Grès is timeless.