Sunday, July 24, 2011
... I had already planned on seeing this exhibit but also on the advice on 2 woman that I highly respect, I quickly scheduled an excursion for a few of my fashion students who were able to fit it in at the last minute. In June, I had the opportunity to catch up with an old friend and fashion co-conspirator - Elinor Berg (mom of my close friend Seth) - who said that after 10 days in Paris, the Madame Grès exhibit was positively the best thing she had seen there. Then, last week, I was lucky enough to coordinate a tea time with the lovely and erudite, Diane Pernet, the preeminent fashion blogger of Paris. If you don't already read A Shaded View on Fashion, you better start now. Anyway, she started off the conversation with her thoughts on seeing the Madame Grès exhibit and the beauty of the presentation of the couture displayed beside the sculpture of the Musée Bourdelle.
And they both were right. I went with Aaron, Jacob and 3 very wise students who chose to see this exhibit over a trip to Montmartre. Tucked away on a side street near the Tour Montparnasse sits the museum of the work of Antoine Bourdelle. While the Musée de Costume won't be ready with its renovations until 2012, they staged the Grès exhibit in this seductive spot. You enter into the main gallery, filled with huge works of sculpture and there sits, enclosed in a glass case, a perfectly seamless example of the work of Alix. Her pleats and folds echo the draping of the cut stone. And a few feet away, is an example of her toile - unfinished, pins exposed to the world to show her careful workmanship of exactedness - the edges raw, the pins placed carefully and the spaces of the pleats measured.
A marvelous, inspirational show of couture... room upon room of the work of Madame Grès: one lone beautiful dress form was set up, dramatically lit in Bourdelle's small apartment, others were set in glass cases in his atelier. There were sketches, fabric swatches and colored illustrations of her years of work. 80 modèles were displayed either on forms or lying flat. She preferred to not have to cut fabric and had her cloth special ordered in extraordinarily widths so she could drape and pleat without interruption. That was just one of many things that I learned that day:
I want this to be my atelier...