Born Germaine Krebs in 1903, Madame Gres was one of the legends of Paris fashion. Although her death in 1994 passed largely unnoticed, in her day, her haute couture was considered the equal of her contemporaries Chanel and Dior. Since 1998, the label has been owned by Japanese group Yagi Tsuho, but while it has grown across Japan, Gres has remained little-known in the rest of the world.
Last year, however, ex-pat Japanese designer Koji Tatsuno was appointed Gres's design director and his first collection(AW 2004) has been unveiled at the refurbished shop on the rue-Saint Honore, making a renaissance for the label. Tatsuno's collectin for Gres is heavily influenced by origami and draws inspiration from ancient textiles, a nod to Tatsuno's early work in London when he made shirts from antique kimonos. Madame Gres would approve-the kimono was a great inspiration of her own work.
Madame Grès (French, 1903–1993)
Evening gown with peplum, silk jersey; 7 7/16 x 9 7/16 in. (18.9 x 23.9 cm)
Photograph: George Platt Lynes (American, 1907–1955), gelatin silver print, 1940
Permission courtesy of George P. Lynes, II, Executor, Estate of George Platt Lynes
David Hunter McAlpin Fund, 1941
Evening coat, 1935
Madame Grès (Alix Barton) (French, 1903–1993)
White silk brocade with polychrome birds and polychrome striped silk
Gift of Mrs. Harrison Williams, Lady Mendl, and Mrs. Ector Munn, 1946 (C.I.46.4.19a,b)