Rene Gruau(1909-2004) created some of the most instantly recognisable and enduring fashion and beauty images of the 20th century. His iconic illustratios defined an era, capturing a new mood of post-war modernity and optimism. His bold lines abd fluid style, simple flat planes of colour and daring use of negative space set a new graphic style and influenced a generation of illustrators. Together with his great friend Christian Dior, Gruau created a fresh ideal of feminine beauty, one that embraced a new kind of elegance, sophistication and joie de vivre. This exhibition looks at the special relationship Rene Gruau had with the House of Dior. Rene Gruau and Christian Dior first Met on the fashion desk of the french newspaper Le Figaro in 1936, where both men worked as illustrators. Coming from similar backgrounds and sharing a similar upbringing, each recognised in the other a kindred spirit. When 1947 it was to his friend that he turned to illustrate his Haute Couture designs. In December of that same year Dior launched his first perfume, Miss Dior, and asked Gruau to produce a series of illustrations.

“Do exactly what you want.” he said, ” we speak the same language”. Thus began one of the most fruitful relationships in illustration history. After Dior’s death in 1957, Gruau continued to work with the House of Dior, producing his last images for Christian Dior Parfums, for the men’s fragrance Jules, in the 1980s.

One of the major trends in 20th century magazine design was the gradual increase in the use of cover lines in those magazines that were usually considered leaders in industry and design, until, by the end of the century, cover lines threatened to dominate the cover photograph.


These two covers come from a time when the most powerful images came not from photographs, but from illustrators.

This cover work was replaced by photo as a fashion photography evolves from the mid 20th.

Still, do we need illustration for commercial reasons?

What is the power of illustration then?

I’m more focusing on the technique of it rather than the image of brand. It depends on how it was drawn in technical way, though. If it is for commercial advertisement, it is pretty an antinomy of businese purpose.

During the presentation I have attended last night, one of speaker introduced some relevant work with 3D technique and what fashion industry can achieve thru this technique. It’s evolving every day. Why we need this old method? For the diversion of expression?  I’m still questioning on this.

These days, People are accustomed to see photo covers on magazines instead of illustration. They are easily focused on illustration itself when they see it.

Do we still need to illustrate for commercial?

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