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1930 Madame Gres Coat

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To say this is rare is a complete understatement. Alix was the first label Madame Gres conceived (around 1932) and she used this label until 1942 when she changed to Gres.

As you can see from this early work of her's, she was truly ahead of her time. This coat dress made of jet black velvet is like nothing I have ever seen done in this time period. It shows some elements reaching back to the turn of the century, like the puffed shoulders and nipped waist, but the ultra wide lapels that cross to button on the shoulder was a very modern look. The coat closes with a button at the waist and one at the shoulder. The skirting is wildly full, I believe it is over a full circle of fabric. The bodice and sleeves are lined, the skirting is unlined.

 I found a photograph by Boris Lipnitzki from Alix Gres Fall collection of 1935 shown in the second row of photos. As you can see, it is a very similar style to this black one, but with a much fuller skirt a less puffed shoulder and a different lapel. Being a couture coat, the style was obviously adapted to meet the specific tastes and style of the customer.

This amazing piece is in good condition, but has suffered some wear. The underarms have had a repair where the velvet has split. The damage is about 1" long and is not seen unless the sleeve is raised. It seems strong and I believe it is wearable, though I feel a piece this rare is best for display. The velvet on the top of the shoulders shows wear where the velvet has rubbed off, perhaps from storage. It appears the waist seam has been reinforced here and there. The skirting is so heavy, I imagine it would have needed it over the years.

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