The name of René Gruau has been synonymous with fashion, beauty and advertisements since the 1940s and beyond, and its recipient famous for some of the most iconic and enduring illustrations of the 20th C.

A-Gent of Style was in France last week and was flicking through old fashion magazines until he came across an advert for Guerlain’s Eau Sauvage by Gruau and was amused by its, ahem, cheekiness (you’ll immediately see what I mean when you scroll down the retrospective later on). This prompted A-Gent to look further into the world of the illustrious illustrator.

The famed artist, born in Italy but raised in France, is particularly associated with the house of Dior and its 1950’s ‘New Look’ and probably most remembered for his sublime depictions of fashions from the ‘Golden Age’ of haute couture through his collaborations with Dior and other fashion houses like Schiaparelli, Fath, Balenciaga, Chanel, Balmain and Givenchy, music-halls such as Le Moulin Rouge and Le Lido ( Gruau was influenced by Belle Époque artist Toulouse-Lautrec) and his colorful and vivacious portrayals of women in fashion magazines like Elle, Marie-Claire, Harper’s Bazaar, Vogue and Flair.

But Gruau also revolutionized the concept of masculinity and the imagery of the modern man and this is what A-Gent of Style would like to focus on today.

His advertising campaigns either captured elegant, debonair gentlemen for magazines like Club and Sir: Men’s International Fashion Journal or the carefree everyday through a bold color palette (he very often used the sacrosanct trilogy of black, white and red or orange), relaxed lines, slim silhouettes and a touch of humour depicting the modern casual, confident man with humour and sex appeal . Some of his images of partial male nudity were considered shocking even revolutionary at the time, like for instance the 1966 adverts for Guerlain’s Eau Sauvage after-shave featuring a man in various states of undress. Oh la la.

René Gruau is now the subject of a beautiful book Gruau: Portraits of Men that was published last year by Assouline, renowned for its luxury lifestyle titles, which regroups the artist’s oeuvre and previously unpublished work from Gruau’s personal sketchbooks.


If you want to treat yourself twofold, why not go and pick up your copy at Assouline‘s newly opened, first London boutique at the opulent Art-Deco Claridge’s. And once you are there, why not undulge in an Afternoon Tea in the Foyer or a cocktail at Le Fumoir (A-Gent of Style’s favourite London bar) whilst feasting on your new glossy hardback! That’s A-Gent of Style’s plan for this Saturday afternoon.

Decadence at its best.




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