Fashion News

Greek Revival

By Naomi Rougeau

Collage of dresses on the runway from Valentino, Ferragamo, and Saint Laurent Spring/Summer 2023 collections

From left: Looks from Ferragamo, Saint Laurent, Valentino, Saint Laurent, Ferragamo Spring/Summer 23 collections

Model on the runway in a Grace Jones-worthy look from Anthony Vaccarello Spring 2023 collection

A look from Saint Laurent S/S 23 collection

Things had been percolating since 2022, when Dior’s Maria Grazia Chiuri presented an ode to antiquity with the house’s Cruise collection at the Panathenaic Stadium in Athens. Shortly after came Schiaparelli with toga-like evening ensembles and models, seemingly deified, with gold-dipped digits. Even Thom Browne shirked his usual schoolboy suiting and emblazoned forgiving tunics with trompe l’oeil statuary offering instant chiseled abs. Fortunately, the timeless silhouettes continue this season, albeit with a looser, more modern feel.

“Draping has an incredibly long history that references itself over and over, whether in terms on antiquity or closer decades,” explains Rafael Gomes, creative director of Atlanta’s SCAD FASH Museum of Fashion and Film, host to “Madame Grès: The Art of Draping,” which runs through June 30. Curated by Olivier Saillard, the exhibit is a partnership with the Foundation Azzedine Alaïa and features nearly 80 garments from the late designers personal Grès collection. “It’s like an ouroboros trend, a cyclical reinvention. Madame Grès was incredible at adapting her draping skills to fit the zeitgeist and that legacy is seen in designers at work today.”

This season, Anthony Vaccarello at Saint Laurent provided the most compelling case studies, with hooded jersey maxi dresses that couldn’t help but conjure up images of Grace Jones’s most iconic looks. In Paris, Jonathan Anderson pushed the boundaries of the medium at Loewe with a more architectural approach (and shorter hemlines), creating peak-like wire framing to provide a foundation from which fabric was suspended. In Milan, Maximilian Davis, newly installed at Ferragamo, embraced transparency with more diaphanous designs. The throughline: a celebration of the female form and an appreciation of the past with an eye toward the future.

Madame Gres Exhibition of yellow dresses with draping on view in Atlanta

A selection of archival looks by designer Madame Grès installed at “Madame Gres: The Art of Draping” at SCAD FASH Museum of Fashion and Film. Image courtesy of SCAD

“It’s important to remember that Madame Grès was a courturier,” says Gomes, noting the countless hours and yards of fabric required to create Grès’s tightly torqued and gathered gowns, something simply not seen in today’s ready-to-wear garments. “She was able to implement the time and dedication to her own designs at a pace she set and while she preffered to focus on the draping and pleating her Hellenic dresses required, she was also an exceptional pattern cutter.” Grès’s devotion to precision found a kindred spirit in Alaïa, who, unbeknownst to many before his death in 2017, had amassed hundreds of her designs. Though the latter is known primarily for his body-hugging garments, Grès’s work often played with revealing cutouts, and form-fitting bodices, albeit without the stretch for which the “King of Cling” was known.

In an era when anything goes—which can make getting dressed a challenge—why not seek solace in a time-tested silhouette?

Long yellow Saint Laurent crepe jersey long sleeve dress

Saint Laurent
Hooded jersey maxi dress

Black bodysuit with draping and side slits

Draped bodysuit


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