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Madame Alix Gres

Discussion in 'Madam Alix Gres 2005 By DebutanteClothing' started by debutanteclothing, Jul 26, 2005.

  1. Hi everyone! I'm Sandra Mendoza. I've corresponded with some of you many times. I am a complete and utter newbie so please excuse me as I figure this all out. I chose Alix Gres because I actually found a Gres skirt, the modern label, and while doing my own research, I found her quite interesting. Most of my workshop will be a brief history, important aspects of Gres and many picutres. I hope you enjoy it.

    Madame Gr&egrave;s<br>
    <img src="http://www.designerhistory.com/historyofashion/images/gres.jpg">

    Madame Alix Gres was actually born Germaine Emilie Krebs in Paris,
    1903. She began as a sculptor, but never had a fruitful
    career. Frustrated, she began to design toiles for a design house
    in Paris. That's when she decided to try her hand at fashion

    She opened her first house under the name Alix Barton. She
    designed silk jersey dresses with simple lines and draping, and began
    gaining some publicity in fashion magazines. Her house was simply
    named "Alix".

    She felt that the true job of the couturier was not create a name for
    him/herself, as many designers do, but to pay rigorous attention to the

    <img alt="" src="http://members.sparedollar.com/fuzzylizzie/wsalix1.jpg">

    Her training as a sculptor influenced her clothing designs. She
    once created a dress modeled after the Louvre's Nike of Samothrace. Alix
    created many of her gowns from silk jersey which she draped and pleated
    and cut on the bias.

    Madame Gres used live mannequins when designing her gowns. She
    would take pieces of fabric and drape and pleat them right on the
    <img alt="" src="http://members.sparedollar.com/fuzzylizzie/wsalix3.jpg">

    From these pictures, you can see the simplicity of the lines in her
    earlier work, but how well it contoured the woman's body. They
    were sophisticated, clean, clung in the right places, and always
    elegant. The wrapped dresses show her Greco-roman sculpture

    In the late 30s, she married Serge Czerefkov, sold the rights to the
    name Alix and adopted Gres from her husband's first name, spelled

    <img alt="" src="http://members.sparedollar.com/fuzzylizzie/wsalix4.jpg">

    Next, the war....

    I will post the next segment between 10am and 12pm PST, but will be online to answer any questions.
  2. fuzzylizzie

    fuzzylizzie Alumni

    Oh, that bit about her name is really interesting. Funny how she was able to sell her name, and then go on to become even more famous, while when Halston did it....

    In that second picture, the dress on the left looks so much like Claire McCardell's work. Do you think Alix was having a lot of inflluence on American designers?

  3. When you said sculptural and draping garments on live models, i couldn't help think of a later day Vionnet.
  4. Jonathan

    Jonathan Trade Member

    One of the biggest mistakes I ever made in my personal history of collecting was to sell an Alix labelled dress from c. 1937. I acquired it VERY cheaply but the side opening had had a later zipper replacement added so I didn't think the dress all that important and never really studied it that closely or researched the label. I sold it to another collector, who has it squirelled away and knows the value of the garment. It was a black silk crepe dress that was essentially a tube of fabric and it was pleated and draped to create a waist. REALLY DUMB on my part to get rid of it!
  5. pastperfect2

    pastperfect2 Trade Member

    I remember reading that Gres often modeled her own wares -

  6. Jonathan, do any photos survive of your find, or was it something you just never thought to photo because you didn't think was important at the time?

    Hollis - wouldn't that make it hard to establish any sort of regular proportion scale if self modelled/fashioned? or maybe that was the beauty of it.
  7. emmapeelpants

    emmapeelpants Alumni

    I have this Alix 'adaptation' set which I know practically nothing about. Could it be a later non-Gres one or is it, as I thought when I first saw it, mid-late 30s? The work on the jacket is simply beautiful, and the saucy underdress seems quite similar to a lot of 1960s designs with the mesh panels.

    Some quick shots this afternoon, it SWAMPS Odette so I've had to pin and pray....

    <img src="http://members.sparedollar.com/talentedamateur/alix1.jpg"><img src="http://members.sparedollar.com/talentedamateur/alix11.jpg"><img src="http://members.sparedollar.com/talentedamateur/alix9.jpg"><img src="http://members.sparedollar.com/talentedamateur/alix8.jpg"><img src="http://members.sparedollar.com/talentedamateur/alix12.jpg"><img src="http://members.sparedollar.com/talentedamateur/alix3.jpg"><img src="http://members.sparedollar.com/talentedamateur/alix-underdress.jpg">

  8. Hattysattic

    Hattysattic Alumni

    ooh liz that's very pretty!
  9. bartondoll

    bartondoll Guest

    Chris I was thinking the same re the connection to Vionnet.

    Oh Jonathan, that hurts! Yes, do you have any pics on file of it?

    Liz, other than what Sandra has posted so far I'm totally ignorant of
    Madame Gres, however I love the red/black and asian styling on your dress. It looks 40s to me?

  10. pastperfect2

    pastperfect2 Trade Member

    I checked- and my memory was incorrect. It was Valentina who acted as her own fashion model.

  11. Hi eveyone!
    Lizzie- I thought the bit about her name was great too! One source says that the husband ended up leaving her and she supported the bum, but I coudn' t find any other sourse to substantiate that, so I left it alone.

    Chris and Sue- I do believe Gres influenced Vionnet, according to my history books. But Gres has influenced so mnay american designers including younger ones like Halston. I think her designs were simple and sophisticated, both attritbutes often assoiciated with American fashion.

    Jonathan-Ouch! Knowing you, good fortune will strike again. Later, i will post a picture of a rececnt "Gres" auction. I thought it should've gone for more, but who am I?

    Liz-I know Madame Gres often used Eaastern motifs and details. Is the collar mandarin on your dress? Another technique Madame used was large panels of fabric to create as much of one entire piece as possible. In other words, she wouldn't cut a seperate panel for the bust, etc. do you see large panels in yours? If I had to guess, I would say this is 30's, like you thought. She didn't get very brave with designs until the after the 40s.

    Be back in an hour with more!
  12. BTW, Paula had asked me if Alix Gres has any connection to Alix of Miami. i told her I didn't think so, but i really had no clue admittedly.
  13. Liz-Madame Gres took a trip in 1937 to the far East and was very influenced by Asian and African culture. she began to embroider intricate patterns on her creations and even designed a variation of a cheongsam.

    This was a 1937 design:

    <img src="http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/psop/hob_C.I.46.4.19a,b.htm">

    She was way ahead of her time!
  14. Lets try that again:
    <img src="http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/psop/hob_C.I.46.4.19a,b.htm">
  15. 3rd time's the charm?
    <img src="http://members.sparedollar.com/debutanteclothing/chinese-jacket.jpg">
  16. WWII

    By the time the war hit, Madame Gres had become a world famous designer. Even though she was Jewish, German soldiers asked if she would design dresses for the wives of German officers. She refused and they closed down her design house. It was a very quiet time for Gres during the war.

    After the war, she began creating her infamous Grecian pleated dresses. Some of these dresses took 300 hours to make. Each pleat was done by hand and had to measure more the 1 cm. wide. The Grecian style dresses were made of one or two pieces of fabric. She draped the cloth over the model and "molded" the design over the body, so the body have shape to the dress, not the other way around. This particular dress was made of two pieces-the body and the shoulder.

    As you can imagine, designs like this cost a fortune to make. Because Madame Gres was so unwilling to compromise the reputation of true couture, she despised mass production and dress diplomats' wives rather than movie stars and other very public people. Instead, she preferred to have her pieces be worn by women of culture who led quiet, private lives.

    <img src="http://members.sparedollar.com/debutanteclothing/gres-grecian.jpg">

    <img src="http://members.sparedollar.com/debutanteclothing/gresfrock.jpg">

    In the 50's, she began "tailoring" women's suits, but of course a Gres would not be a Gres without some sort of wrap:

    <img src="http://members.sparedollar.com/debutanteclothing/50swoolGresSWANK.jpg">

    This wool suit is currently for sale at www.swankvintage.com

    Next....The necessary road to Ready to Wear
  17. emmapeelpants

    emmapeelpants Alumni

    Hi Sandra!! That's very interesting, and would fit in quite nicely! It is a little stand up collar, and you're right - there aren't many panels in it (although I'm not sure if I'm just getting this impression because it's a larger size). The jacket is rather straight and there's only a hook and eye at the neck and waist.

    I'm still debating what to do with it, whether to eBay, website or trade with someone......or just gaze at the pretty flowers a while longer! :)

  18. Liz,
    Before you make a decision on eBaying it, I have an example of a dress that was sold at said auction site and I think it could've gone for much, much more as it had Gres' signature pleating. Maybe a live auction?

  19. emmapeelpants

    emmapeelpants Alumni

    I wasn't too sure about that, given that it's an adaptation and the underdress is in fairly poor condition (the transparent sections I mean)....but I suppose it could be worth investigating!

    Looking forward to seeing more! :)


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