Grès, Alix (1910–1993)

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Grès, Alix (1910–1993)

French fashion designer. Name variations: Germaine Krebs; Alix Barton; Madame Alix Gres. Born Germaine Barton in 1910; died in obscurity at a nursing home in southern France on November 24, 1993, though her death was not disclosed until December 1994; married M. Krebs; children: daughter Ann Grès.

Madame Grès, the professional name of Germaine Krebs (née Barton), was prominent on the French fashion scene for 50 years. Known for her independent approach to design and her respect for the figure of the wearer, Grès created well-cut clothes that pleased clients as well as fashion commentators and columnists. Despite her celebrity, Grès shunned the spotlight. Thus, it is not surprising that 13 months passed before anyone was aware of her death: the announcement made the front page of France's Le Monde on December 13, 1994. Her daughter Ann, angry at an industry that had neglected—in her view—one of its greatest creators, had deliberately kept the press uninformed when her mother died in a nursing home on November 24, 1993.

Educated in the arts, Germaine Barton apprenticed at the Paris couture house of Premet. In 1937, she started a shop with a partner on the fashionable Rue du Faubourg St. Honore under the name Alix Barton, specializing in day dresses made of jersey. The boutique was an instant success. In 1942, she made a fresh start taking her husband's pseudonym of Grès and was still designing in 1985, when she introduced a ready-to-wear line and licensed scarves, neckties, and design jewelry for Cartier. For many years, Grès was president of the Federation Française de la Couture, the fashion syndicate. Her original training as a sculptor influenced her trademark Grecian draped gowns that clothed such clients as Grace Kelly, Marlene Dietrich, and Jacqueline Kennedy .

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