Few people had a more iconic influence on 20th Century women’s fashion design than Rene Gruau. Rene Gruau’s drawings of elegant women in bold, rhythmic and colorful lines with fluid style have attracted legions of couture-devotees to his illustrations.
Rene Gruau’s creative collaboration in 1947 with his friend, Christian Dior, who entrusted him with drawing the Miss Dior advertisement and the famous “Bar” suit, created Dior’s New Look in women’s fashion and brought Gruau’s fashion drawings to critical acclaim.
Fashion designer John Galliano said “Gruau captured Dior’s style and spirit better than any other…for me, a Gruau sketch captures the energy, the sophistication and daring of Dior.”
Rene Gruau ultimately worked with all of the greatest names in Haute Couture - from Balmain, Balenciaga, Lanvin, Givenchy, Rochas, Shiaparelli, and Fath to Molyneux. Gruau is renowned the world over for groundbreaking illustrations that were published in Femina, Marie-Claire, L’Officiel, L’Album Du Figaro, and later for Harper’s Bazaar, Vogue and Flair, and influenced the graphic style of a whole generation of fashion illustrators. Equally influential was his new way of photographing everything from vintage perfume bottles to women’s fashion accessories, the industry benefits of which are still vividly present in fashion photography today.
Rene Gruau was born in Italy in 1909 of an aristocratic Italian father and a French mother, Marie Gruau - an artist whose name he took. While still a teenager, Rene’s fashion sketches were already being accepted by German, French and Italian magazines. Rene Gruau is said to have been inspired by Toulouse-Lautrec’s sketches as well as by classical Japanese Kabuki theatre and woodcuts, which influenced his motifs on a ground of flat tone using broad, flowing brushstrokes, pen, Indian ink and gouache.
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