madame gres

Important & Rare Spring 1966 Madame Gres Printed Silk Chiffon Cut Out Dress

Madame Gres' work has had profound effects on Haute Couture and her influence still resonates to this day. Her attention to detail, master draping techniques and respect for the female form is unparalleled. She was known for designing and creating garments directly on her models and this became a signature of her work. She opened her first atelier, La Maison Alix in 1932. A partnership briefly changed the house's name to Alix Barton and then the label went to simply Alix. In 1942 she married, and the label made its last change to became Madame Gres, which was a partial anagram of Serge, her husband's first name. Her work spans over five full decades with the vast majority of it, with the exception of a short-lived RTW line begun in 1980, dedicated solely to creating Haute Couture. She is one of the greatest couturiers of our time and her pieces are very rare and hard to find. This dress from her Spring 1966 Haute Couture collection is exceptional and also very sexy.

In the book 'Madame Gres' there is a section that talks about the direction of each collection. In the notes for Spring 1966 it notes that 'A reflection on the notion of the 'sexy' garment led Madame Gres to modify the very structure of her draped dresses by creating triangular cut-outs on their bodices, thus revealing the body between the folds. This play on a eroticism characterized the technique of a 'later' drapery in the fashion designer's business, from 1966 to go to 1988.' or in other words, it was the beginning of a new direction in the work that she was doing. The owner also provided a photo of the twin of this dress from L'officiel that season, making it a rare documented piece from this time period for her work. Whenever you have a dress that is photoed and a part of a key change in direction for a designer it makes it a piece of note. The fact that it is spectacular is just a happy bonus. It is truly a dress that makes you gasp out loud when you see it just because of how amazing it is. I was so pleased to have the reference photo so you can see just how fabulous it is on the body.

The dress itself is spectacular. It weight ounces. It is made out of a printed silk chiffon organza that has a touch of transparency to it. She meant it to have this effect so that you get a glimpse of the body underneath, but at the same time the dress is layered in places to give you some coverage. The colours mix deep reds, coral and yellows in curving swirls over the silk. The bodice is scooped and skims over you curving down into a point at the waist to meet the skirt. At the back it has an almost racer back feel with a curved cut out design that also curves down to meet the skirt and leaves the sides of your back bare. The waist is left exposed on both sides and I love how all of the edges are set on curves meant to flatter and shape the body. The skirt is suspended from just those two tiny points and yet sits perfectly on the body. It is genius really. At the front it falls in a column of silk that gently widens out as it nears the hem. At the back there is a high slit up the center but she has added a panel that falls over the center of the skirt to hide this. It's sexuality but in a very subtle way. This also gives the dress an extra bit of movement that it would not have otherwise. Inside there is a built in bottom that gives you coverage to off set the slight see-through quality of the dress. It is a piece that is literally meant to be worn on its own with nothing else underneath. There is not a single zipper to be found on the dress. It closes with hidden set hook & eye and snaps. The proper Haute Couture label is present and it is made by hand. It is a remarkable and rare piece of fashion history. Excellent condition

Unlined through most of the dress with a built in bottom. The back of the front bodice is lined with a nude silk and I suspect that this was added later by the owner as it looks to be done by a combination of machine and hand work whereas the rest of the dress is all done by hand. There is elastic looped through the edges of the bottom and it closes with a hook & eye on the top of one shoulder, at one edge of the top at the side and then along a curving seam at the waist. It appears to have been worn very little if at all. It is fantastic.

Bust: the spot where it hooks is 30.75" around and that sits approx 13" down from the shoulder so it is just under the bust

Top seam of skirt: 15" flat across from seams to seam and the side edge of that sits at approx 19-20" down from the shoulder
Skirt hips: 18" flat across from side seam to side seam
Bodice: 16.5" from top of shoulder to where it meets the skirt at the front
Skirt: 40.5" from center point of the waist to hem
Inner Bottoms hips: 17.5" flat across from side seam to side seam
Inner bottom gusset:

Modern Sizing Equivalent: XXS-XS

Item# DD4021

Reference Photo: Model wearing Madame Gres for L'Officiel, Spring 1966. Photo by Dominique Laporte.

This garment has been professionally cleaned, pressed and is odor free. Thoroughly checked over before shipping, it will be ready to wear upon arrival.

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