The Madame Grès exhibition

One of my highlights of our weekend in Paris was seeing the superlative Madame Grès exhibition at the Musée Bourdelle. For me, this was higher on my Must-Do list than even visiting the Montmartre fabric shops, and I was so glad that this museum is open on the weekends, and even located very close to our friends’ flat, too.

Madame Grès originally wanted to be a sculptor, so it makes perfect sense that the dresses were shown in a sculpture museum, and intermingled amongst the various sculptures on display.

I went on a Saturday afternoon, and the museum was filled to the brim with middle aged women and young men, all taking a multitude of photos on their cameras and phones. Had I known it was allowed, I would’ve brought our DSLR, but as it is, you’ll have to settle for the limited detail from my iPhone…

In addition to the dresses from across her entire career (1930s up through the early 1980s), there were also cabinets full of original sketches, many with the original fabric swatches still attached, too.

I took some additional photos of my favourites from the exhibition, including this amazing draped grey dress:

It’s difficult to see in my photos, but all those tiny pleats are held in place with thousands of tiny, perfect hand stitches! And this was the case with all the dresses with similar, draped bodices!

I just love the asymmetrical neckline on this pale dress, which kinda reminded me of the neckline on my wedding gown. Note that the back is not open, but the fabric is so pale that its difficult to tell where the mannequin fabric starts.

One thing that surprised me is that the majority of the dresses were made in silk jersey, which I think of as being quite a modern fabric. But clearly Madame Grès loved the drape and feel as much as I do!

Another dress that caught my eye was this reversible taffeta dress from 1945, whose sleeves I instantly recognised as being the rumoured “big thing” for FW11, as seen in Stella McCartney’s recent show:

All in all, there were loooooads of dresses on display – many more here than at the V&A’s current Yohji Yamamoto show (which I also recommend), and you can get just as close to most of the Grès dresses, too. I had plenty to keep me busy for an entire afternoon, and I really only gave the sculptures the briefest of attentions. If you’re anywhere near Paris before the end of July and enjoy Madame Grès’s designs as much as I do, I highly recommend stopping by this exhibition.

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