This evening dress is a replica of a 1955 design and was made especially for the Museum in 1971. Madame Grès trained as a sculptor and then turned to haute couture, becoming ‘Alix’, with premises in the Faubourg St Honoré in Paris. She re-opened at 1 rue de La Paix in 1941 as ‘Grès’. A house press release described Madame Grès’ personal manner of handling materials ‘almost without seams’, and how she ‘induced manufacturers to produce jersey in large widths and took part in their researches to apply these techniques’.
This dress forms part of the Cecil Beaton Collection, brought together by the society photographer Sir Cecil Beaton (1904-1980). With great energy and determination, Beaton contacted the well-dressed elite of Europe and North America to help create this lasting monument to the art of dress. The Collection was exhibited in 1971, accompanied by a catalogue that detailed its enormous range.
Evening dress and belt of white jersey. Evening dress of fine white jersey consisting of thirteen straight panels joined and minutely pleated. There is no seam at the waist – the skirt and bodice are in one. The pleats are top-stitched at the waist and then carried on in a diagonal manner in the form-fitting bodice. Finally they are twisted and stitched at the neck to form a plaited edge. The dress has one strap over the left shoulder and the other is left bare. The bodice pleats are couched onto a cream silk crepeline foundation which is boned and has a wired brassiere. A straight, heavy, white silk crêpe petticoat is attached to a white grosgrain waist stay. The dress fastens at the left seam with small hooks and eyes. The main seams and hem are machine- stitched but the rest of the garment is hand sewn. [Waist cord] Narrow rouleau belt in the same jersey.
Place of Origin
Paris, France (made)
Grès, Madame, born 1903 – died 1994 (designer)
Materials and Techniques
Pleated jersey, silk crepeline, boned, wired brassiere, silk crêpe, grosgrain, machine and hand stitched