Absolutely astounding black silk gown by Madame Gres! The dress is maxi length, with an empire waistline, a v-neck neckline, and the most amazing, voluminous sleeves. The sleeves are truly amazing; they billow out from the shoulder, drape, cape-like, over and around the arm, gaining length as they approach the wrist. The sleeves end in a cuff that gathers the crescendo of the black silk sleeve. The dramatic, theatrical, spectacular sleeves contrast with the subdued, classical, pillar-like empire-waist body of the dress. The dress is an wonderful piece indicative of Gres' experimentation with form and structure in the 1960s and 1970s. Absolutely amazing!
The MET Costume Institute owns an identical Madame Gres dress, and was on view at The MET Cloisters in Gallery 06 as part of the "Heavenly Bodies" exhibit. The MET is also in possession of another dress that is essentially alike, but made of brown silk.
Born in Paris, around the turn of the 20th century, Madame Grès (nee Germaine Émilie Krebs, AKA Alix Barton, Alix) pursued sculpture before turning her interests towards fashion. Grès was initially a hat maker, but her eye for design soon propelled her into haute couture dressmaking. By the 1930s, Grès had made a name for herself and counted a number of famous women in her client list, including: Wallis Simpson - the Duchess of Windsor, Princess Matilda of Greece, Paloma Picasso, Grace Kelly, Marella Agnelli, Marie-Helene de Rothschild, Edith Piaf, Jacqueline Kennedy, Dolores del Río, Barbra Streisand, Marlene Dietrich, and Greta Garbo.
During the German occupation of France in World War II, Madame Grès was ordered to design stark, utilitarian clothing, but defied the occupation government and continued to design sumptuous dresses in the red, white and blue of the French tricolour flag. Bewilderingly, despite being Jewish, German officers were said to have asked Grès to design dresses for their wives. Grès bravely refused. Both her refusal to design for the wives of occupying officers, and her refusal to design drab garments, played a part in the forced closing of her design house; her plenteous use of fabric during wartime was the excuse given.
After the war Grès began to design her famous Grecian goddess gowns. Although her earlier work reflected the sculptural, grecian motifs that she exhibited in her later work, she truly came into her own by designing the Grecian goddess gowns. Like her earlier work, the Grecian goddess gowns championed simplicity and the liberty of movement, and were designed with the wearer in mind: the body was to shape and mold the dress, not the other way around. Grès experimented with form, function, movement, and structure, creating billowing pleats and narrow pinches that would steer the direction of her designs. Grès career stretched across several decades, and her designs still remain timeless and unparalleled.
This is dress is Classic Halston. He created clothing that is both incredibly comfortable and sensual at the same time and without ever being too revealing. Not an easy feat at all ... but he made it look so easy.
The lightweight jersey length and its long sleeves make it perfect for day to nightwear or wear any season of the year. It can be dressed up, down, but just dress in it! Perfect for a night of channeling an era of wild fun!
Roy Halston Frowick was born on 1932 in Des Moines, Iowa. He initially took inspiration to sew from his grandmother. He would create hats for his mother and alter clothing for his sisters. His foundation in fashion progressed in his teen years as he attended Indiana University for a short spell and then The Art Institute of Chicago while earning funds through creating windows displays. Hat making would be his first love and in 1957 opened his first shop. While he had a small but important following, it wasn’t until Jacqueline Kennedy wore her famous (Halston) Pillbox hat in ‘61 that he became an instant success. He rode the wave of fame and fortune for a while but once hats started to go out of fashion, so did Halston’s sales. Halston’s low point would prove to be a test for what was next in his life. After much experimentation, a failed collection, and the help of his well curated team, he developed the minimalist yet irresistible look we all know and love! He was a true creator of culture during his time. Halston’s work was revered within the studio 54 crowd, worn by all the “It Girls” and on the cover of popular magazines.