Exploring the influence of fashion illustrator René Gruau

Rene Gruau's world-famous fashion illustrations epitomise the glamour and sophistication of Fifties couture - gracing the era's most iconic magazines and advertisements, from Vogue to Balenciaga, Balmain and Lanvin; as well as being a "key figure in Christian Dior's marketing team.

Here we have one of his fashion designs for Dior, circa 1960.

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Throughout his career, René Gruau produced numerous designs for the covers of fashion magazines, notably the publications Vogue, International Textiles, Sir and L’Officiel de la Couture et de la Mode de Paris, as well as the men’s magazine Club, for which he designed several covers in the late 1940’s and 1950’s.


This is a design for the cover of the August 1985 issue of the trade magazine International Textiles. This was, in fact, among the very last covers for the magazine to be designed by Gruau, who had produced bold, vibrant cover drawings for almost every issue of the monthly periodical since 1946.

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Gruau was a man of the world and of many skills: an illustrator and a poster artist, he also sold paintings, designed costumes and stage sets, and even created his own collection of clothing in 1948-49. In Gruau’s many and varied works, one thing always shone through: his style — a notion he strongly defended at a time when the use of photography in advertising threatened poster artists.

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The art of René Gruau is a timeless expression of style, elegance and sophistication. Gruau brought together in a unique way his absolute mastery of graphic art and his exceptional, innate appreciation of the magical constituents of fashion and glamour. 

Lady with flowers, 1972

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Gruau is rightly acclaimed as the greatest fashion artist of the last century, his name synonymous with the story of high fashion, and particularly the story of Parisian creativity through the second half of the 20th century – the glory years of haute couture and its related world of luxury.

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Teaming exuberant and elegant brush strokes with an incredible eye for composition, Gruau’s unique designs graced the covers of this first-ever international rag trade magazine from 1946 to 1984. A lasting influence on decades that followed Gruau’s mature style, with its bold, solid colours, daring use of negative space and sweeping black line signaled optimism and opulence after World War II. Gruau produced bold, vibrant cover designs for almost every issue of the International Textiles Magazine published between 1946 and 1986.

Woman with a Long Head Scarf: Design for the Cover of International Textiles Magazine (July 1971)

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