GRUAU: PORTRAITS OF MEN, BY RÉJANE BARGIEL AND SYLVIE NISSEN Primarily known for his colorful and vivacious portrayals of women, René Gruau revolutionized the concept of masculinity in fashion imagery and advertising from the 1950s to the ’80s, depicting the modern casual, confident man with humor and sex appeal.
Gruau became one of the best known and favorite artists of the haute couture world during the 1940s and 50s working with Femina, Marie-Claire, L’Officiel, L’Album Du Figaro and an assortment of “high-style” magazines.
According to Alan Riding of the New York times, “everything he did, he evoked the glamour and style of the world of high fashion”.
Because the technical age of the 20th century had yet to emerge, Gruau’s pictures were the advertisements of the time and gave marketing and presentation of clothing a new brilliant flare. Illustrations were intensely very important in the haute couture world.
Gruau’s first position as artistic director for advertising was in 1947 with Christian Dior. Both together formed the “New Look” of the time, partially a result of Dior’s designs, and partially a result of Gruau’s combined interpretation and upgrading of old-style graphic illustration.Gruau formed a friendship with Dior that contributed to their successful collaboration and further enlargement of fashion advertisement, which a primary reason he is mostly remembered for his work with Dior.
In 1956, he work on “Dior pour hommes” collection. This led him to meet the most avant-garde fabric manufacturers of that time, such as the house of Dormeuil, who were at the forefront in developing new materials.
During Gruau’s lifelong career he collaborated with fashion houses such as Givenchy, Balenciaga, Lanvin, Schiaparelli and Dior. The 2011 Spring/Summer Haute Couture Collection of Christian Dior by John Galliano is heavily inspired by Rene’s works.
Gruau’s artwork is recognized and commended internationally in some of Paris and Italy’s most prestigious art museums including the Louvre in Paris and the Blank in Italy. In addition to his international fame and recognition, “Gruau’s artwork is known for its timeless and enduring style”.
This previously unpublished work, taken from several of Gruau’s personal sketchbooks, is present in this book for the first time—a true lesson in fashion history.
See also: Book Review: New New York Interiors