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Make Free Flowing Garments Using Simple Shapes

May 29, 2013
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The couture salon of Alix Grès is located in a lovely old Parisian building on the rue de la Paix, overlooking the Place Vendôme. I enter Maison Grès from an elevator off a courtyard. All is white, serene, austere, elegant, with high ceilings and large windows. The elevator is flanked by niches into which life-sized classical sculptures of women have been set. I wait on a white leather sofa for Madame Grès to descend from the atelier. She has the walk and carriage of a middle-aged woman, and while she is inches shorter than my own 5 feet 2-1/2 inches, she conveys none of the frailty one reads about. Her face is lively, her eyes really wonderful. She is wearing her usual turban and an angora-jersey skirt and sweater over a cashmere turtleneck. Her voice is full, rather low. As she enters the room, she issues a reminder: She has only 15 minutes to spare before meeting a client. She doesn’t make herself comfortable when she sits down to my right, on the edge of the sofa. In 19 minutes, she’ll be gone, murmuring regrets. I have traveled to wintry Paris in April, having submitted in advance the questions I…

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