The collections of Madame Grès were prized for the pleated silk jersey gowns that ended each of her shows. With their himation-like draped swags, these designs are a relaxed version of the fine dense pleating that generally covers her fitted, highly structured bodices. The technical virtuosity incorporated in the draping is revealed only on close study of this example. The swags are both continuous and unbroken panels of fabric that incorporate the right fronts and backs of the gown. In her neoclassicism, Grès conformed to the antique notion of uninterrupted lengths of cloth, stitched but not cut into shape. From her earliest work, Grès introduced windows onto the body with cutouts that bared the back and midriff. She created a fissured shoulder, consistent with her own practice and resonant of the split shoulderlines of antique chitons.
Fancy Dress Costume (Detail)
Early in the twentieth century Diaghilev’s Russian dance company, Ballets Russes, performed in Paris—reigniting the taste for orientalism in Europe with its exotic sets and costumes. As this ensemble illustrates, Poiret excelled in recontextualizing western dress with fantastical eastern influence. He was also a maverick modernist in creating a stir, taking promotion of his inventive ensembles to new levels with his infamous spectaculars. This fancy-dress ensemble was made for and worn to Poiret’s 1002nd Night party in 1911, which was designed and organized to promote his new creations in the full splendor and glamour of the orientalist trend.
Mata Hari - Greta Garbo as the protagonist wearing a stunning costume, an intricate long sleeved, gold braid gown made entirely from gold mesh and beading.
It took fifteen beaders three weeks to hand-sew the beads. The gold braid skirt was split to reveal legs encased in gold mesh; the sheen of the fabric emphasized the actress’s body, glistening like oil slicks. Her arms were covered by dolman sleeves, wrapped tightly around her wrists. Despite her legs being covered, her shoulders and back were exposed, revealing her vulnerability.
A truly fantastic, and surprisingly modern-looking, costume!