Grès Ladies

For the purpose of spreading art historical awareness to the needy in New Hampshire, a shiny new car has been purchased! My anxieties on becoming a "car person" have been quelled by the fact that having this shiny thing allows me to take long distance adventures at any moment! 

Only ten or so years late: my very first car (ok, it's the family car), but still! To celebrate this milestone we embarked on a spontaneous trip to Cape Cod, a place that I have visited every year for exactly half of my life. As we crossed the Sagamore Bridge, we were embraced by the familiar fog and so we went straightaway to Chatham where I spent my formative (summer) years. 

The mystery and magic that I find in the fog reminded me of an interesting article on the dialogue between clothing and sculpture. Madame Grès, the great Parisienne couturier who worked from the 1930's through the 80's, made the most breathtaking dresses which are on display at the Musée Bourdelle in Paris. Madame Grès was originally trained as a sculptor, she claimed she treated “fabric like stone.” Her insanely gorgeous dresses, mostly silk jersey, are shown in glass vitrines alongside ancient sculptures. While the dresses are modern, the inspiration comes from the same time period as these statues.

The textures and dreamy colors of the silk are so similar to the intricate patterns beneath the smudged horizon, the misty places where land and sea meet, and the tidy but weathered shacks always circled by hydrangeas. The soft pleats are reminiscent of the faint lines found in the water, in the sand, and in the movement of the sea grass. If Cape Cod were to have a dress code outside of Nantucket reds, boat shoes and whale prints, Madame Grès would be my choice.

I love the idea of integrating clothing with ancient sculpture in a museum. After all, the advent of High Classical Greek and Hellenistic sculpture was reliant on clothing, to some degree, to express new innovations, namely movement. Costumes, clothing, and textiles are almost always relegated to separate galleries. This kind of isolation renders these productions as shallow and disconnected from the realm of art history. In fact, clothing is a very important part of art history, and I believe museums are missing out on crossover interests and enhanced understanding by keeping them separate. I shall consider it my mission to bring these worlds together.

Nike Adjusting Her Sandal, Temple of Athena Nike, Acropolis, Athens, 410 BCE

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