Fashion by AnKoko

When ideas, spite and draping meet – Madame Grès

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    I always find inspiration in the most unusual places. So, a few days ago, I stumbled upon an old picture of a draped dress and decided to do some research. Draping, or moulage, is a technique used to manipulate fabric, in such way that it “hugs” the body and gets a three-dimensional shape. Just look back at ancient Greece and picture Helen of Troy wearing a white draped dress with a golden belt – magnificent, isn’t it?

If you’re interested in draping, the chances are you’ll discover the name Madame Grès (1903 – 1993), a.k.a. the “Sphinx of Fashion”. Although she is not well known among the younger generations (partly because she decided to stay away from the media) Madame Grès was truly one of the Queens of design – and I am pretty sure that her work should be one of the images that appear when you Google “the masterpieces of fashion”. And even though her reign didn’t last long enough, Grès left a deep mark in the history of fashion, paving the runway for draping technique and the Greek Goddess dress.

Madame Grès was actually a sculptor, and that’s probably why her work stood out so much – her dresses were a perfect combination of drama and feminine charm. She let the body shape the dress, not the other way around, which was a pretty revolutionary thing to do for that period 🙂

Madame was a true rebel. During World War II (when Paris was occupied by the Germans) she refused to make dresses for Nazi wifes. And as if that wasn’t enough, her new collection featured the colors of the French flag. Pretty bold, huh?

Of course, they closed down her studio, stating that she violated the clothing restrictions by using too much fabric in her work.

Each dress made by Madam Grès took hours and hours of hard work (sometimes even up to 300 hours). She created directly on the model, and was able to turn up to two yards of material into 7 cm of tiny, hand-sewn pleats. One word: perfection.

Sadly, due to her bad business decisions, this great designer was long forgotten by the time she was old – she died alone and penniless.

Inspired by her story and her beautiful work, I made this cute yellow dress with floral motif and pleats on the back. The front of this chiffon dress features a boat neckline with hand sewn floral details, while the open back has pleats that make it so special and “flowy”. There’s just something about open back dresses that I love. I find them way sexier than any cleavage dress.

And to spice things up, I chose a perfect accessory for this dress – a few drops of  Madame Grès perfume: “Cabouchard” (translation: STUBBORN).


Xo, xo 🙂

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