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Death Of Legendary Fashion Designer Disclosed, 13 Months Later

December 13, 1994

PARIS (AP) _ Madame Alix Gres, a legendary figure in the French fashion world for a half century, died 13 months ago at age 90. Her daughter succeeded in keeping the death secret until today.

The newspaper Le Monde reported the death, quoting the daughter, Anne Gres, as saying she acted ″out of love.″ Municipal authorities in Paris subsequently confirmed the designer’s death, which occurred Nov. 24, 1993, at a nursing home in southern France.

Born Germaine Krebs in Paris in 1903, she was known to the fashion world only as Madame Gres. Little was known about her youth because she was reluctant to discuss it.

In 1937, she started a shop with a partner on the fashionable Rue du Faubourg St. Honore, and called both it and herself Alix.

She developed into of the top Parisian designers and an ardent champion of haute couture. She was president for many years of the Federation Francaise de la Couture, the powerful fashion syndicate.

While rarely innovative, Madame Gres epitomized the French couture craft, consistently creating well-cut clothes for a faithful clientele.

Her salon at 1 Rue de la Paix was a bastion of haute couture, where spectators sat on uncomfortable little gilt chairs, expected to examine clothes with reverence.

Before World War II, she designed frequently for the theater and cinema, working with writer-directors such as Jean Giraudoux and Jean Cocteau. When peace returned, she invented the name Gres and set up shop alone on the rue de la Paix.

Her more recent theater work included designing clothes for actresses Maria Casares and Delphine Seyrig in Harold Pinter plays.

She developed a line of men’s accessories in 1957, a perfume company in 1959 and custom-designed jewelry for Cartier in 1979.

Somewhat shy, yet fiercely devoted to turning out perfect clothes, she made more public appearances in later years. She went to big fashion parties, always wearing her trademark turban.

Her fashion house was bought by businessman Bernard Tapie in the 1980s and now belongs to the Japanese group Yagu Tsusho.

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