ILLUSTRIOUS ILLUSTRATOR: RENE GRUAU



 


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last year by Assouline, renowned for its luxury lifestyle titles, which regroups the artist’s oeuvre and previously unpublished work from Gruau’s personal sketchbooks.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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BLUMENFELD AT SOMERSET HOUSE





Barbara Palvin, the 'doe eye', 1950

Barbara Palvin, the ‘doe eye’, 1950

 

A show called Blumenfeld Studio: New York, 1941–1960 held at Somerset House until September 1 focuses on Berlin-born photographer Erwin Blumenfeld (1897–1969), one of the most internationally sought-after portrait and fashion photographers in the 1940s and 1950s. America’s leading magazines including Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar hired him for his imaginative and highly individual shots. 

Around 100 colour photographs and originals of Erwin Blumenfeld’s works in fashion magazines provide insights into this key artistic phase in the life of the artist from his photography studio at 222 Central Park South in New York.
 

Self-Portrait, 1961

Self-Portrait, 1961



Next time you are by the Strand, make sure you pop in to have a glimpse at the dazzling world of this little known but iconic photographer.

Lilian Marcusson for Vogue, January 1951

Lilian Marcusson for Vogue, January 1951

 

Evelyn Tripp in Dior, 1949

 

Nancy Berg, Cadillac, 1954

Nancy Berg, Cadillac, 1954








1953

1953

 

Grace Kelly, 1955

Grace Kelly for Cosmopolitan, 1955

 

Decollete, 1952

Decollete, 1952

 





City Lights, 1946

City Lights, 1946

 

Ruth Knowles for Vogue, May 1949

Ruth Knowles for Vogue, May 1949

 

Vogue, 1953

Untitled, 1947

Audrey Hepburn

Audrey Hepburn, 1952


Untitled, 1950


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3 Profiles, 1952

3 Profiles, 1952

 

Untitled, 1944

Untitled, 1944

 

Girl with Gloves, May 1949

Girl with Gloves, May 1949

 

Erwin Blumenfeld by Gordon parks, July 1950

Erwin Blumenfeld by Gordon parks, July 1950






STILL EN VOGUE



Summer was in the air a few days ago in London and I let my mind drift  as I was basking in the sun eating ice-creams with a friend in Hyde Park and I suddenly started day-dreaming of the beach and…George Hoyningen-Huene and the iconic black and white photographs from the Swimwear shoot he did for Vogue in the late 1920s- early 1930s that encapsulated the chic and timeless French Riviera attitude of yesteryear. Sigh. Which reminds me there is only a few days before the Cannes Festival starts…


George Hoyningen-Huene (1900-1968) was a fashion photographer of German origin who fled his native Russia during the 1917 Revolution. He established himself in Paris where he designed garments for fashion houses. In 1925 Hoyningen-Huene obtained his first position as an illustrator at Vogue. He subsequently became one of the magazine’s leading photographers. In 1935, he emigrated to New York and became a US citizen. There he collaborated with Harper’s Baazar, later moving to Hollywood where he became a portrait photographer to the stars.

Hoyningen-Huene produced Vogue’s advertising campaigns for the 1929-1930 ladies swimwear collections. The most famous fashion designers at the time were Izod, Lelong and most prominently Jean Patou. The creations targeted a new kind of customer – the working, sporty and liberated women. The flapper fashion, which reached its peak between 1919 and 1929, changed the archetype of feminine fashion and lifestyle habits forever. Under the influence of Coco Chanel, the suntanned look became a fashion mainstream from 1920, after which the arms, legs and shoulders began to be revealed. Being a slender and tanned woman became a social “must”.

He developed a style in fitting with the spirit of the time thus creating a modern iconography. He was fond of quoting his friend Coco Chanel: “L’Elégance c’est moi.”. Clearly!

Swimwear by Lanvin

Swimwear by Lanvin

 

Swimwear by Schiaparelli

Swimwear by Schiaparelli

 



Swimwear by Schiaparelli

Swimwear by Schiaparelli

 



Swimwear by Schiaparelli

Swimwear by Schiaparelli

 

Johnny Weissmuller

Johnny Weissmuller

 





Swimwear by Jean Patou

Swimwear by Jean Patou

 

Swimwear by Lelong

Swimwear by Lelong

 

Swimwear by Jean Patou

Swimwear by Jean Patou

 

Swimwear by Jean Patou

Swimwear by Jean Patou

 

By Horst

By Horst

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