Historically Significant 1940s Madame Gres Grecian Goddess Silk Knit Gown in Black and Red

Germaine Emilie Krebs AKA Madame Gres


Historically important Grecian goddess gown by the legendary Madame Gres. This lavish yet austere, floor length, one shoulder gown features countless hand-stitched chiffon pleats from the shoulder to the bottom of the dress, echoing classical antiquity. The dress is accented by a dramatic red pleated drape emerging from between the bodice's black pleats and cascading down the front of the dress, towards the floor. The dress includes a 22 inch long red belt. The famous Gres label, as well as two stitched-in Stars of David can be found on the waist of the dress' lining.

Born in Paris, around the turn of the 20th century, Madame Gres (nee Germaine Emilie Krebs, AKA Alix Barton, Alix) pursued sculpture before turning her interests towards fashion. Gres was initially a hat maker, but her eye for design soon propelled her into haute couture dressmaking. By the 1930s, Gres 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 Rio, Barbra Streisand, Marlene Dietrich, and Greta Garbo.

During the German occupation of France in World War II, Madame Gres 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 tricolor flag. Bewilderingly, despite being Jewish, German officers were said to have asked Gres to design dresses for their wives. Gres 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. Found in this dress, Gres sew in a Star of David on either side of the gown, perhaps as a resistance statement during the war. Much research has been undertaken on this gown to determine its original owner to find out if perhaps this had been made for an allied or axis sympathetic individual. To date, we have been unable to determine the original client for which this gown was made.

After the war Gres 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.

Although her career stretched across several decades, Gres designs still remain timeless and unparalleled.

*All MRS Couture garments and accessories have been professionally cleaned and thoroughly checked before shipping. They are ready to wear upon arrival.

  • Country of Origin
  • Item #
  • Condition
  • Materials & Techniques
  • Size
    Current U.S. Size
    32 (EU)
    34.5 in. (88 cm)
    27.5 in. (70 cm)
    40 in. (102 cm)
    Total Length
    60 in. (152 cm)
  • Size Chart

Related Items