Fashion and Fashion designers [Madame Grès: Bourdelle Museum] by The British

An intoxication of the eyes awaits those who visit the Bourdelle Museum to see the Madame Grès exhibition. The intrigue of visually absorbing exceptional pieces of Parisian fashion history, including the haute couture genre, alongside physically dominant stone sculptures, at first glance seems a contradiction of sorts. The delicate naivety offered by the trademark Grès designs with long, flowing elegant lines with intricate pleat detail contrasting against the chosen sculptures of large, imposing and physically dominating stone scultpted pieces, seems a dichotomy at best. However, step through the doors into a seemingly haphazard display of beautiful ‘art’ and you will understand the harmomy created by a truly visionary fashion designer and even more a curator (Olivier Saillard) who has brought the concept together to form this truly wonderful exhibition.

The venue: high ceilinged, minimalist with the most poignant natural lighting. It is not crowded with examples of work, but rather pieces that are chosen to complement and stamp that first statement of intent on the mind of the observer. The first large room one walks into, has a striking physicality to it. The dresses typically displayed in this room are in individual glass protective units and they are simple, pure. Reminiscent of Roman high class wear… the Olympic rennaisance. It is a clear intention of how Madame Grès builds, diversifies and creates beyond this basic concept. 

A selection of 80 designs are on display, but it feels like much more to the innocent bystander. One can spend a delayed amount of time in front of one most detailed piece. Simple textiles (more often than not jersey silk) and designs that prefer the less opulent choice of mono colour, one is always still going to find a surprise. I felt that three styles of designs made themselves clear to my eye:

The classic ‘I am a Hollywood movie star/going to an Oscar ceremony’ look . The designs are full length, black, white, mauve, purple, magenta and they show the ‘feminine’ body with the narrow shoulders, full on the bust, tight on the waist and holding the hips in place. Timeless in essence.

The ‘ daring, the retro, the bright coloured internationally influenced designs.’ Easy to identify the decade for which they were intended. In fact some designs were heavily influenced by Asian themes, most notably the Japanese kimono.

Finally the ‘ the sex, the raw, the intrusive and the fluidly erotic.’ These are the dresses which require  the body of the wearer to create part of the design and this body expose is required to complete the overall imagery of the body being the craft upon which the dress decorates.

The exhibition in its entirety holds countenance not only for those followers of fashion and haute couture fashion buffs, but  also for those uninitiated such as myself. Go…laden with your camera and be prepared for a journey into the realm of fashion originality.