WWD covered Madame Grès from the beginning: “Alix: The New Paris Couture Personality,” read a headline on July 26, 1934. After launching the line Alix Barton with friend Juliette Barton in 1933, she was now on her own—and one-to-watch, according to the paper. “Madame Alix is now in business for herself in swankily simple salons on the Faubourg Saint-Honoré, over the Bernheim Art Galleries,” the paper reported, adding that “[she] is so shy of honors she could scarcely be persuaded to appear for congratulations at the end of the first showing.”
This story first appeared in the November 1, 2010 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Fast-forward to the December 14, 1994, issue, which announced her death, not to mention the unusual circumstances surrounding it. “In fact, she’s been buried for over a year,” WWD revealed. “And, in a bizarre tale worthy of Alfred Hitchcock, her daughter, Anne Grès, managed to keep the news of her mother’s death from public knowledge for over a year.” Adding to the intrigue: Anne had also been corresponding under the guise of her mother, whose surname was an anagram of her husband Serge Czerefko’s first name. To wit: although town hall records showed the designer died on November 24, 1993, “Madame Grès” was still providing WWD with quotes, through her daughter, the following year.
“It was a case of an envious daughter and an unfortunate mother,” said Yves Mouclier, Grès’ managing director in the Eighties. “Madame Grès had an extraordinary talent, but her daughter had none. It was as simple as that.”