PLEATS PLEASE: A selection of designs from the personal archive of Madame Grès will go under the hammer in Paris on Thursday.
The bulk of the pieces, dating from the ’30s to the ’80s, were acquired as a single lot by Philippe and Emmanuelle Harros, the husband-and-wife duo behind vintage specialist Quidam de Revel. French auction house Cornette de Saint Cyr is putting up for sale some 120 items, which include outfits owned by an unnamed French actress, to coincide with Paris Couture Week.
They include several examples of Alix Grès’ signature Grecian-style pleated jersey dresses, but also minimal designs such as a striking black cape from around 1970, and an apron-style coral evening dress from the ‘60s. Some of the looks were exhibited as part of “Madame Grès, Couture at Work,” a retrospective devoted to the mythic French couture label at the Musée Bourdelle in Paris in 2011.
“There are truly beautiful pieces that are representative of her work. It’s a very nice collection. It’s timeless,” said her granddaughter, Anne Graire, who was raised by Grès until the age of 13.
Known as a designer’s designer, Grès enjoyed her heyday in the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s. But she also saw a comeback in the 1970s, with Yves Saint Laurent and Issey Miyake among advocates of her work. Marlene Dietrich, the Duchess of Windsor, Grace Kelly and Paloma Picasso were among the label’s fans.
Graire said the designer worked relentlessly well into her old age. “She was always surrounded by fabrics or lots of books,” she recalled. “She was very busy, even though she was a grandmother. In fact, she was as busy as if she had been a woman of 30 or 40. She was always dedicated to her work.”
Grès pursued her ideal of the seamless garment with economy of line and volume, experimenting with constructions. The designer was also a great colorist, using a broad palette of hues, from sand to sun yellow, bluebell, raspberry and coral.
“Nothing was superfluous. She didn’t like things that were heavy and cluttered, and that’s probably one of the reasons why the designs have stood the test of time,” said Graire.
“Sometimes, the dresses appear very simple, but are actually very complex. You wonder which way to put the fabric and which side they will fasten. There is often a little mystery when putting the dress on the mannequin, because she designed them and she’s no longer there to explain exactly how to put the dress on,” she continued. “It’s part of the charm of the garment, because it falls in a very particular way.”
Grès, who was born Germaine Krebs, released a couple of scents, was a skilled tailor and dabbled in ready-to-wear. Yet her focus remained riveted on one thing: couture dresses, which she continued to design into her 80s. She is remembered as a fiercely private, strong-willed workaholic who preferred to let her creations do the talking.
“For me, she remains current because people are still interested in her personality and her work. It has passed through the generations,” Graire said. — JOELLE DIDERICH
GOING BIGGER: Bottega Veneta has expanded its flagship in San Francisco.
The Kering-owned luxury brand has enlarged its Maiden Lane store, creating an entrance at 124 Geary Street. Now 3,355 square feet, the space features concrete flooring, hand-knotted merino carpet and leafy plants in vessels made by Chicago-based ceramicist Anders Ruhwald.
Artist and skater Raphaël Zarka, who is known for his modular wood sculptures resembling skate ramps, designed the oak shelving and furniture, as well as the black metal blade sign on the stone-clad facade.
Bottega Veneta has launched a denim Brick Casette bag exclusively at the store, to celebrate.
The project is a vote of confidence in the city’s Union Square neighborhood amidst the prolonged pandemic recovery, a record number of vacancies and public safety concerns after retail thefts in San Francisco at the nearby Neiman Marcus and Louis Vuitton stores, among others.
Despite the drama over former creative director Daniel Lee’s departure, in 2021 Bottega Veneta logged a 24.2 percent increase in revenues compared with 2020, surpassing the 1.5 billion euro mark. Compared with 2019, revenues rose 32 percent.
In an interview with WWD, chief executive officer Bartolomeo Rongone attributed the success to the “exquisite design with extraordinary craft” of the products and the company’s ability to maintain a strong, intimate relationship with clients and customers alike throughout “the challenging period and despite the impact of the pandemic,” creating different physical “moments of contact.”
Matthieu Blazy was named creative director of Bottega Veneta in November, and debuted his first collection for the house at Milan Fashion Week in February. In March, Ilaria Icardi was appointed ready-to-wear design director. The Victoria Beckham, Celine and Yves Saint Laurent vet is in charge of pre-collections. — BOOTH MOORE
RALPH’S COURT: The British summer season is in full swing, and it’s all blue skies — at least for now.
The Championships Wimbledon often takes place under cloudy or rainy skies, but so far the grounds have been bathed in sunshine, and there are strawberries as far as the eye can see.
This year marks the 100th anniversary of Centre Court at its current location on Church Road, and it’s also Polo Ralph Lauren’s 17th anniversary as official outfitter of The Championships.
All chair umpires, line umpires, ball persons and grounds people dressed in white and navy blue stripes, spiffy V-neck cardigans and blazers. Wimbledon runs until July 10 when the men’s finals take place.
The brand has been entertaining during the two-week event at the Polo Ralph Lauren Suite, and earlier this week assembled an art-minded crowd, with guests including the photographer and Southbank Centre chair Misan Harriman, and actors Jessica Plummer, Jimmy Akingbola, Max Harwood, Carmen Kassovitz, Rosa Robson and Saffron Hocking.
Harriman, who documented the Black Lives Matter protests in the U.K., and who is Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s favored snapper, is venturing into moving pictures, working on a project for Netflix that stars Plummer.
Set to come out later this year, and also starring David Oyelowo, the TV film is about a terror attack, its aftermath and its impact on one particular family.
Akingbola, who sought — and found — his fortune in Hollywood, starring in the TV series “Bel-Air,” is also working on a number of other projects, producing a show about children (like him) who grew up with foster families called “Handle With Care.”
He’s also produced a comedy panel show called “Sorry, I Didn’t Know,” that focuses on diversity, and untold stories, in history.
Earlier this week, he was soaking up the sunshine on the balcony of the Ralph Lauren’s flower-filled Wimbledon suite. “With today’s weather, I’m a happy man. Good weather is not always a guarantee in the U.K.,” said the London-born actor.
Harwood has moved on from his star turn in “Everybody’s Talking About Jamie” and into a series of other projects, including a zombie film that takes place in the American suburbs.
It’s called “The Loneliest Boy in the World,” and Harwood described it as having a darkly comedic “Edward Scissorhands” feel. — SAMANTHA CONTI
THE REAL THING: Maria Grazia Chiuri celebrated the roots of couture, honoring the hours of creation and craftmanship that go into every garment with her latest show for Dior on Monday afternoon.
Sigourney Weaver praised the house for shining a spotlight on the details. “When I see the workmanship, dedication and skill — you know I can’t do anything, thank goodness I can act — but when I see what these people can do I’m in awe, I really am,” she said.
The “Avatar” actress talked up the sequel that has been 13 years in the making. In the upcoming film she plays a new character in the form of a 15-year-old girl.
“[Director] Jim Cameron says I’m very immature, so he said that playing a 15-year-old will be perfect for you,” she joked. Taking on the role required a lot of physical training, and caused her to revisit her own youth, back when she reached her height of 5 feet 11 inches early on.
“I think most kids don’t feel they fit in no matter what they look like and I think it’s a very vulnerable time, and so the opportunity to play someone that age was a great challenge but a great, great thrill,” she told WWD. “Of course it boils down to what that experience was for you and I think we all remember — sometimes too vividly — what a memorable time it was. I was this tall when I was 11, so you can imagine that I have very strong memories of that time.”
The star said the upcoming film is “so strong emotionally, and it’s all about family.”
It was fitting then that the Dior show’s theme was “tree of life,” inspired by the work of Ukrainian artist Olesia Trofymenko. The same theme was central to the storyline of the first “Avatar” film.
Her “Avatar 2” costar Zoe Saldana was also on hand, making the show a family affair, and arrived hand-in-hand with niece Eli Saldana. They held tight throughout the show.
YouTube star Liza Koshy reflected on the show’s theme, introducing her mother Jean Carol to the crowd of young fans who were jostling to take pics with her. “The show is the roots of life and this is the root to my tree of life, my mom over here, and it’s been an honor to bring her to the first haute couture show I’ve ever been to,” she said.
When Koshy discovered the fans were also some of the embroiderers responsible for the work, she high-fived each of them and congratulated them on their work.
Naomi Watts also reflected on the theme, which was displayed in artworks that reached to the ceiling and lined the runway. “I am feeling the spirit of the love from these Ukrainian artists, and to celebrate them. There are so many things in the room that are making me feel optimistic, and that’s saying a lot,” she said of the bright, floral murals.
Watts reflected on the political mood in the U.S. and the world. “It’s very hard. There’s not a lot to be hopeful about. This is a terrible time with all that is going on,” she said, adding that it has lit her political fire. “I haven’t [been an activist] but now is the time isn’t it? It’s time to get strong and loud and shouty and organized, because we’re gonna fight it.”
The Australian actress praised Chiuri’s very visible support for the cause. “She’s a strong voice and somebody just asked me, ‘Is it appropriate for fashion to be political?’ And absolutely. Wherever, whatever your platform is, if you have a strong voice and strong beliefs, yes,” she said. “And for all women, right now, we need the voices.” — RHONDA RICHFORD
OH LA LA: Online retailer 24S has tapped London-based designer Nensi Dojaka for an exclusive capsule collection launching on July 7.
The 2021 LVMH Prize winner has designed 10 pieces, ranging from pleated bra tops and tights with a daring twist design at the knee, to lightweight shirts and midi dresses.
The retailer’s chief buying and marketplace officer Maud Barrionuevo lauded Dojaka’s personal vision and “poetic, never aggressive or vulgar” aesthetic that put self-confidence top of mind.
“[Such capsules] are part of our role as a platform to give space and a voice to these new talents [that] we believe in,” she continued.
The discussions between retailer and designer zeroed in on the 24S client, someone “international but who shares this vision of a sophisticated but effortless chic of the Parisian — or rather French — aesthetic,” Barrionuevo recalled.
Dance and movement felt like the right Parisian direction for Dojaka to develop her core lingerie-inflected designs and also explore new, easier options that continued her main spring 2022 collection as well as new colors like blush pinks and creams.
She particularly enjoyed working on capsules because they “force you to think about clothes in a different way and open your mind [to] help you move forward,” particularly as an emerging designer.
A retailer like 24S is also a great way to “reach a clientele that wouldn’t ‘dare’ and find a different audience,” she thought.
“It’s inspiring to see [my designs] in tagged pictures on Instagram. It gives a new perspective beyond our little world of fashion,” Dojaka continued. “Reality is much more exciting.” — LILY TEMPLETON
DESIGN TO BUDGET: What’s the difference between designing a building and designing a book? Budget, says Peter Marino.
“A book is a lot of fun, you don’t have the budget or time restrictions, it comes out whenever you want and you just do it,” said the American architect, who was signing copies of his latest tome, “The Architecture of Chanel,” at the brand’s recently reopened watches and jewelry store on Place Vendôme. “Buildings have time, and budget.”
Clients, friends of the house, and even three lapdogs in a gilded shopping basket, queued to get their copies signed in the second-floor salon overlooking the square and its famous column — just opposite the Ritz, where Gabrielle Chanel had a permanent suite.
The new flagship, which opened in May, is Marino’s latest project for Chanel, and its watches and jewelry division’s most lavish yet. One wall features a permanent display of the 55.55-diamond necklace, the not-for-sale design commemorating the 100th anniversary of Chanel No.5 perfume, while the staircase is adorned with gilded bronze and rock crystal panels by Chanel-owned silversmith Goossens.
“It’s not bad, it’s amazing what I do with a $10,000 budget,” Marino joked.
“We’ve never pushed a design so far,” said Frédéric Grangié, president of watches and jewelry at Chanel, pointing out the black metal panels adorning a wall in the space, each of which took 10 days to polish and finish to resemble paintings by Pierre Soulages, just one example of the attention-to-detail that went into the boutique.
Even getting the gigantic 1950 painting by Nicolas de Staël that dominates the room inside the building was a feat in itself. “We had to bring it through the window with a crane,” said Grangié, whose office is just upstairs from the boutique. — ALEX WYNNE
MIAMI READY: Destination: Miami by Coterie, a three-day fashion wholesale event geared to the resortwear category, will take place July 16 through July 18 at the Eden Roc Hotel in Miami Beach.
More than 80 international and domestic brands are confirmed for the upcoming event, including Gapaz Beachwear, Lily Franco, Nay Sunset Wear, Oasis, Sabine Arias, Apaya and Cruise.
Among the retailers that are expected to attend are those from Saks Fifth Avenue, Bloomingdale’s, Bergdorf Goodman, Goop, Revolve, and the Ritz Carlton, among others.
“The swim and resortwear category is such a vibrant segment within fashion, and Destination: Miami is where the next must-have styles, prints, materials and accessories are introduced before reaching the consumer market,” said Kelly Helfman, president of Informa Markets Fashion. “In addition to the show floor, we designed the event experience to reflect the industry’s balance between work life and wellness — we’re excited to introduce daily yoga classes, face fitness, and self-case sessions, among many other experiential activities designed to complement our industry’s personality and inspire creativity.
Various wellness activities are scheduled to take place, such as daily morning yoga in the Spa Garden from 8 to 8:30 a.m., a full spiritual makeover from Nicole Rose of The Manifest Mindset, face fitness by celebrity esthetician Lana Marr, and an aura photography reading. — LISA LOCKWOOD
CIAO PARIGI: Lorenzo Serafini is gaining a toehold in Paris. The Italian designer was in town on Sunday night to celebrate his summer pop-up at Café de l’Esplanade with pal Chiara Ferragni, who sported a daring diamanté chain bra top.
Serafini said he followed the restaurant’s cofounder, Isabelle Saglio, on Instagram without realizing she was the mother of stylist Géraldine Saglio, who used to work on his shows. “And then at one point, everything came together,” he recalled.
As part of the takeover, set to last until mid-September, the designer has decked out cushions, coasters and matchboxes with striped, floral and toile de Jouy prints from his Philosophy di Lorenzo Serafini line.
“It’s a mix of the Philosophy fabrics and it’s nice because it’s fresh, and they link perfectly together,” he said.
Guests including influencers Chriselle Lim, Jessica Wang and Coco Bassey toasted the venture with Champagne and mini pizzas. “We just wanted to bring a little piece of Italy which is, I have to say, the best food in the world, even though we are in the most beautiful city in the world,” the designer said.
A custom, decorated cappuccino will also be on the menu. Serafini has further plans in the hospitality field. “In September, we are doing another café during the fashion week in Milan,” he revealed, without spilling further details. This time around, he hopes his presence could be permanent. — J.D.