Madame Grès as 1930s Fashion Designer “Alix Grès”

Germaine Émilie Krebs (1903–1993), known as Alix Barton and later as “Madame Grès”, relaunched her design house under the name Grès in Paris in 1942. Prior to this, she worked as “Alix” or “Alix Grès” during the 1930s. Formally trained as a sculptress, she produced haute couture designs for an array of fashionable women, including the Duchess of Windsor, Marlene Dietrich, Greta Garbo, Jacqueline Kennedy, and Dolores del Río.

Her signature was cut-outs on gowns that made exposed skin part of the design, yet still had a classical, sophisticated feel. She was renowned for being the last of the haute couture houses to establish a ready-to-wear line, which she called a “prostitution”.

The name Grès was a partial anagram of her husband’s first name and alias. He was Serge Czerefkov, a Russian painter, who left her soon after the house’s creation. 

She retired at the end of the 1980s after French investor Bernard Tapie took control of the company. She died in a low-cost retirement home, apparently alone and penniless.

In 2012, the last Grès store in Paris was closed.

Germaine Krebs (1903-1993) dite Alix puis Madame Grès, créant une robe du soir pour Macy's. Paris, août 1933.

Madame Grès draping a dress, photographed by Boris Lipnitzki, ca. 1935

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Germaine Krebs (1903-1993) dite Alix puis Madame Grès, à l'époque de la maison Alix Barton, créant un modèle drapé sur un mannequin. Paris, 1933.

Madame Grès draping a dress, photographed by Boris Lipnitzki, ca. 1935

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Madame Grès, Dress, photographed by Eugène Rubin for Femina, 1937

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Madame Grès by George Hoyningen-Huene, 1937

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