SCAD FASH Fashion Museum + Film Presents Madame Grès: the art of draping
ATLANTA, GA – The Savannah College of Art and Design is proud to launch the exhibition The art of draping at the SCAD FASH Museum of Fashion + Film in Atlanta, honoring legendary French fashion designer Madame Grès. Organized in collaboration with the Azzedine Alaïa Foundation, Paris, and curator Olivier Saillard, The art of draping presents exquisite garments spanning six decades from the personal archives of the late designer Azzedine Alaïa. This is the first retrospective of Madame Grès’ work in the United States in almost a decade and a half.
In The art of draping, more than 70 dresses and ensembles by Madame Grès from Alaïa’s unique collections — mostly collected in secret — are presented to the public for the first time. The clothes presented date from the 1930s, when Madame Grès created under the name of Alix, from the 1980s, when her timeless creations were still at the height of modernity. The significant presence of Madame Grès’s works in the Alaïa archives testifies to the passion he had for the creator, with whom he shared a gift for sculpting forms.
“Madame Grès ruled fashion with clean lines, neoclassical drapes and a timeless understanding of the female form,” said SCAD President and Founder Paula Wallace. “Her dresses exude elegance and grace and transport the wearer (and those lucky enough to see them) through time, from ancient Greece to the future of fashion. This exclusive SCAD FASH exhibition showcases grandeur and precision from one of the world’s most gifted designers and once again underlines why SCAD exists at the epicenter of fashion, couture and timeless beauty.
Born Germaine Émilie Krebs, Madame Grès (French, 1903–1993) was one of the most beloved and influential French couturiers of the 20th century. An accomplished artist focused on craftsmanship, Madame Grès aspired to become a sculptor. Eventually, finding solace and solitude in her studio, where she achieved remarkable feats of design intricacy with artistic precision, she in fact became the greatest sculptor of any fashion designer of her time. A contemporary of Madeleine Vionnet, Coco Chanel and Elsa Schiaparelli, Madame Grès was revered for her expert use of drape and innovative construction in garments evoking the sensual style of ancient Greece. Madame Grès’ minimalist draping and pleating techniques, as well as her attention to and respect for the female body, have left a lasting mark on haute couture. His creations have inspired many of the most illustrious fashion designers, including Cristóbal Balenciaga, Ralph Rucci, Issey Miyake and Isabel Toledo, among others, in addition to Alaïa.
“Azzedine Alaïa collected Madame Grès’ clothes with passion, patience and determination throughout her life. He always hid his treasures. He wanted to keep them so that his foundation and future generations can learn from his profession,” said Carla Sozzani, president of the Azzedine Alaïa Foundation. “Today, for the first time, these precious works are brought together in a single exhibition — and will leave La maison d’Azzedine and make their way to the SCAD FASH Museum of Fashion + Film in Atlanta. We are extremely grateful for the generosity and foresight of Paula Wallace, and grateful to her and SCAD FASH for making one of Azzedine’s dreams come true.
The art of draping offers a detailed study of evening and day dresses, made-to-measure ensembles and cocktail dresses by Madame Grès, skilfully staged as in an intimate theatre, revealing the extraordinary mastery of her draping and the timelessness of her creations . The exhibition also presents a selection of unpublished period prints on loan from the Azzedine Alaïa Foundation and rare images of Madame Grès taken by the emblematic photographer Horst P. Horst, an artist of her time whose career was intimately linked to the his, presented with the kind authorization of the Horst estate. An exhibition of complementary historical importance, Horst P. Horst: The Essence of Time is currently on view in the adjoining SCAD FASH gallery.
“For the first time, nearly 80 dresses by Madame Grès, secretly collected by Azzedine Alaïa, will be exhibited at the SCAD FASH Museum of Fashion + Film in Atlanta,” said Olivier Saillard, curator and director of the Azzedine Alaïa Foundation. of the Azzedine Alaïa Foundation and passionate historian in his spare time, Alaïa would have been proud to share this knowledge and these works. We are very grateful to Paula Wallace for this third invitation to SCAD FASH, and we are honored by this history of fashion will resonate with university students, the public and future generations to come.
The art of draping is the third SCAD FASH exhibition presented in collaboration with the Azzedine Alaïa Foundation, a valuable partner of the university’s museums and a resource for students. In honor of the 20th anniversary of the French establishment of the university in the summer of 2022, SCAD FASH Lacoste has mounted Azzedine Alaïa: The Art of Fashion, a skilfully curated exhibition that traced the arc of Alaïa’s legendary career. In 2020, SCAD FASH Atlanta presented Alaïa-Adrian: the masters of the cutcombining clean designs and impeccably tailored looks by Alaïa and Gilbert Adrian.
“SCAD FASH is honored to present The art of draping and provide the rare opportunity to see and admire the craftsmanship, dedication and genius of the most legendary artisans in fashion history,” said Rafael Gomes, Creative Director of SCAD FASH. “We are proud of our collaboration and our privileged relationship with the Azzedine Alaïa Foundation. SCAD students and museum visitors will be amazed by this once-in-a-lifetime exhibition paying homage to one of couture’s most enduring icons.
The Art of Draping is viewable from November 11, 2022 through June 30, 2023. For more information, please visit scadfash.org.
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About SCAD FASH Fashion + Film Museum
SCAD FASH Museum of Fashion + Film celebrates fashion as a universal language, clothing as important vectors of identity, and film as an immersive and memorable medium of popular culture. Located within SCAD Atlanta, the museum features dynamic exhibits, captivating films, and engaging events that harness the rich and rich legacy of fashion history to inspire contemporary designers and future innovation. Supported by the university’s strong global presence and relationships with renowned contemporary fashion designers, filmmakers and creative professionals around the world, SCAD FASH is an integral part of the SCAD educational experience. Like the award-winning SCAD Museum of Art, SCAD FASH serves as a creative resource for students of all ages and a source of inspiration for visitors. Through programming that engages the university’s wide range of academic disciplines, SCAD FASH offers a variety of exhibitions, films, installations, performances, and events to enliven and inspire the greater community throughout the year. Each program is designed to attract and appeal to visitors with a variety of backgrounds and interests, ranging from textiles and jewelry to photography and film. Past exhibitions have featured the work of designers Ruth E. Carter, Azzedine Alaïa, Pierre Cardin, Carolina Herrera, Mary Katrantzou, Guo Pei and Oscar de la Renta. Photographic exhibitions featured the work of Albert Watson, Jonathan Becker, Bill Cunningham and Omar Victor Diop. The exhibits are accompanied by curated film series that complement the programming. Past films include Pierre Cardin: The Future, The First Monday in May, Funny Face, The Leopard, and Ovation for Oscar, among others. For more information, visit scadfash.org.