“The Artwork of Draping,” the latest exhibition on the Savannah Faculty of Artwork and Design’s Museum of Vogue, reveals the key assortment of Madame Grès items that Azzedine Alaïa collected throughout his lifetime.
The enduring designer as soon as informed a great pal he solely had about three items by the French couturier — however after Alaïa’s dying in 2017, that pal, famend curator and director of the Fondation Azzedine Alaïa Olivier Saillard, found there have been truly over 900.
Until you had been alive between the Forties and Nineteen Eighties, it is unlikely you have seen a Madame Grès unique in particular person. Whereas pictures of them exist within the archives of commercials and Vogue, the clothes themselves have been collected and preserved much less. Alaïa’s dedication to accumulating them, then, contributes massively to the preservation of vogue historical past.
“The Artwork of Draping” — introduced in Atlanta, GA in collaboration with Fondation Azzedine Alaïa — engulfs guests in magnificence and surprise. It additionally tells a narrative of a deep connection throughout time and house for 2 nice designers.
Towering on the entrance are 4 black attire that stretch to the ground with a regal sprit. Draped materials across the neck stream behind like a cape. A low-cut robe flaunts the decrease again, whereas an asymmetrical cap-sleeve fashion flows down with the grace of a waterfall.
Strolling deeper into the exhibit, you face an outpour of draped magnificence. Richly textured purple velvet traces a model’s silhouette earlier than skimming the ground as if to tease it. Crinkled robes in pale yellow command one nook of the room, whereas sage-green clothes seize viewers in one other. A most putting black velvet cutout gown outlines the higher bodice with sensual-yet-simple cutouts. As if curving right into a whirlpool anchored by the chest, one marigold-orange fashion’s intricate traces create a voluminous collar match for a queen.
Every Madame Grès design possesses the facility to lure any onlooker with its meticulous particulars, as if a siren’s soul was captured in clothes.
Born Germaine Émilie Krebs in 1903, Madame Grès grew up desirous to be a sculptor, however her dad and mom did not enable it. As she developed her expertise in vogue design, she saved her want to sculpt shut, utilizing materials to mould the female physique. Her designs had been minimalist and timeless, lending her clothes the nickname of “goddess robes.”
With a method and design language so robust, Madame Grès’ garments had been indistinguishably hers. She turned a number one French couturier from the Thirties by the Nineteen Eighties; Alaïa rose to prominence throughout the identical interval, virtually receiving a handed baton of couture.
“She was obsessive about timelessness — I believe [Alaïa] was additionally searching for timelessness contained in the work of Madame Grès, as a way to perceive how you possibly can be timeless,” Saillard says.
Madame Grès used plenty of black and white, for instance; when it got here to ornamentation, she targeted on draping the physique fairly than utilizing prints and embroidery. Alaïa was equally suave, his work recognized for timelessly celebrating the physique with a basis of sensuality. (He was even referred to as the “king of cling” within the Nineteen Eighties, with Uschka Pittroff as soon as saying that sporting his garments was “like being in a person’s passionate embrace.”) Alaïa sculpted the physique like Madame Grès, however leaned right into a broader vary of methods.
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His ardent accumulating of Madame Grès clothes (and her pictures) is proof of his curiosity and reverence for her fashion, which additionally impressed Cristobal Balenciaga.
Like Madame Grès, Alaïa was enthralled with vogue design from a lens of sculpture. Like her, his profession spanned half a century, impressing a legacy of magnificence and creativity. Consistent with her rebellious spirit, Alaïa was unafraid to name out the style business’s behavior of overproduction and consumption, as a substitute following his personal vogue calendar.
“It was a query of line: Azzedine was completely obsessive about doing garments with none seen seams,” Sailard says, noting that each needed to be sculptors. “The essence of Azzedine is the physique.”
“Doing an exhibition is to decide on the primary gown,” Saillard says. “The very first second of an exhibition is essential.”
Curating an exhibition from over 900 items is not any straightforward process, particularly when working with the collections of a misplaced pal. Alaïa’s residences all through Paris could be so crammed with objects, Saillard remembers, there have been rooms one could not enter.
“It turned a privilege to find the gathering, nevertheless it was additionally very unhappy,” he says. “There is a second to gather — and Alaïa collected rather a lot — and now, it is a second for me to protect, to point out. However in reality, there’s an ambiguity between the enjoyment. I’ve to point out them with out him.”
“The Artwork of Draping” follows up the SCAD Museum of Vogue’s many wealthy choices, which have included reveals on and by Christian Siriano, Ruth E. Carter, Carolina Herrera, Pierre Cardin and Guo Pei. This newest challenge traces synchrony and hints on the undercurrent which linked two nice designers throughout house and time.
“I’ve to admit. While you see the historical past of vogue by the good architects — like Balenciaga, Vionnet, Grès, Azzadine, Comme des Garçons — it is one other factor,” Saillard says. “I actually suppose vogue may win one thing by going again to the garments, to not the picture.”
As Virgil Abloh broke vogue floor making use of his architectural philosophies to vogue, Madame Grès crossed disciplines in the same technique to masterfully infuse clothes together with her sculptor’s contact. Because the exhibit illustrates, Alaïa reveled in it, following in her footsteps.
“The Artwork of Draping” is on view on the SCAD Fash Museum of Vogue + Movie in Atlanta, GA by June 30, 2023.
Disclosure: SCAD paid for Fashionista’s journey and lodging to go to the exhibit.
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