The frock exhibitions in Paris are beyond. You’d kind of hope so from the home of couture, wouldn’t you? Every one I have seen has left me a bit breathless. A bit regretful for leaving costume curating behind so many years ago. And with an unholy urge to start sewing. Immediately.
Madam Grès was the professional moniker of Germaine Émilie Krebs, sculptress turned dress designer. She made the pleat her own – the 1940s pleat, anyway. Silk jersey was her fabric of choice. The pleats tiny and falling away from the hip or shoulder, elongating the silhouette.
This retrospective Grès exhibition was at the Musée Bourdelle. Bourdelle was a sculptor of monumental pieces not quite as finished as they might have been. It worked very well – frocks amongst the art. The sculptural pleats juxtaposed with the sculpture – the soft, the hard, the slink and the sinew.
The dresses were strewn all over the museum, grouped by hue rather than history. The colours of the silk satins and jerseys were as tasty as a selection of Laduree macaroons. Subtle or striking by turn. The details in the dresses understated and so well (hand) finished. The little bit of pattern and texture simply proved the pared back aesthetic rule.
I inspected every stitch, cut and fold. Then stood back to admire the display. Then photographed and tried not to touch. A set of images is on Flickr, including the lovely signs taking you through the equally nice buildings. Sigh.