Madame Pico

I’m on a brief study abroad with my Fashion department and our first stay is in Paris. After a comedy of errors en route we finally made it to the land of chocolate croissants, Marie Antoinette and Madeleine. Our first appointment was at the Paris American Academy for a draping demonstration with Madame Pico.

Before our visit I had no idea who Madame Pico was, but if I had known she had anything to do with Madame Gres I would have had a stronger sense of what was coming. Madame Pico is fantastique! She spent her life working for different couture houses: three years working for Balmain, 24 years working for Madame Gres and 11 years working for Nina Ricci.

Madame Pico began by giving us a short background and history on Madame Gres from her childhood all the way through her death, which the press didn’t find out about until a year after she passed and her daughter allowed a journalist to meet with her.  Madame Gres and her couture house was known for magnificent draping, a very intricate technique that can easily make the construction of one garment take over 130 hours.

Madame Pico began working for Madame Gres making bustiers where she gradually worked up to making the drape pleated skirts and then onto making the draped bodice pieces for many of Madame Gres’s couture dresses. In one 80-piece couture collection there may have only been three or four draped gowns, but because they were so highly regarded, they are the most remembered.

Madame Gres only used silk jersey from France for her draping and one skirt could easily measure to 13 meters. The couture house’s first couture collection was in July 1942 where instead of showing a wedding dress like most couture designers did, she showed three evening gowns in the colors blue, white and red, inspired by the French flag.

Madame Pico still drapes, but her work is no longer for other designers; she creates dresses and other draped garments for herself, her daughters and her granddaughters.

Madame Pico showing us how to carefully make a drape pleat for a skirt.

This dress took Madame Pico over 300 hours to drape, she said it was the hardest and most intricate drape she did while at Madame Gres.
Madame Pico fitting a bodice on one of our girls. This bodice is for a jumper she is making for one of her granddaughters.



Filed under Uncategorized

4 responses to “Madame Pico

  1. This is so cool! I can’t believe that draping is such a time-consuming process. You officially get cool points.

  2. janick deshoulliers

    Hello, I’m looking for mrs Pico. Where’s she?
    I work in a museum (Galliera, Paris). We prepare an exibition about mrs Grès. Thank you very much for your answer.

    • our appointment was set up through the American University in Paris. I would contact them to see if they can direct you to her, she was phenomenal when we saw her!


      Bonjour Mme Deshoulliers,
      Ce message ne concerne pas Mrs Pico, mais c’est le seul moyen que j’ai trouvé pour vous joindre en direct.
      Je suis Dany Isard-Verdoïa et je viens seulement de prendre connaissance du message que vous avez envoyé au Petit Echo de la Mode de Châtelaudren, après la mort de Jean-Claude. Je tenais à vous remercier, personnellement, ainsi que Joanna, de ce message de sympathie qui me touche profondément. Vous rappeler de lui après tant d’années me fait un énorme plaisir dans mon chagrin. C’est donc qu’il vous a laissé un bon souvenir. Merci pour lui.
      Bien cordialement
      Dany Isard-Verdoïa

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s