René Gruau – Illustrator (February 4, 1909, Rimini – March 31, 2004, Rome)
René Gruau was born as Count Renato Zavagli Ricciardelli delle Caminate, in Rimini, Italy. Gruau was the son of an Italian father and a French mother, both aristocrats who separated in 1912, at which time he moved to Paris with his mother.
Already in Paris, Gruau took the name of his mother. At 18 he was already publishing his fashion designs in Italy, England and Germany. From 1946 to 1984 he collaborated with International Textiles for which he would draw all the covers.
René Gruau was inspired by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec‘s Art Nouveau aesthetic, echoing expressive line and controlled color blocks. He quickly received recognition, becoming a graphic artist for haute couture fashion houses, as well as commercials.
From 1947 he began his work with Christian Dior, a fashion house to which the Gruau name is closely linked. This year he made his mark on the industry by designing the iconic Miss Dior fashion campaign, one of the first famous Dior Parfums ads. From 1966 to 1972, the most famous Dior perfume advertisements, such as Eau Sauvage, Diorella and Diorissimo, will feature the feminine silhouette created by Gruau.
In 1948, Gruau worked for Harper’s Bazar and Vogue. Later, he became Flair’s exclusive artist. In postwar Paris, Gruau designed posters for the Lido and the Moulin Rouge.
Gruau was also an illustrator and poster designer, working closely with Federico Fellini, and his best-known poster being that of the classic film La Dolce Vita (1959)
Starting in 1989, he worked with the entire world of Fashion and Haute Couture in France: Christian Dior, Hubert de Givenchy, Chanel and Christian Lacroix.
René Gruau passed away in Rome at the age of 95. The museum in his hometown, Rimini, preserves a collection of his work.
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In the work for advertising the artist’s imagination knows no boundary; the more you move away from the expected and the traditional, the better it is.
I was practically born holding a pen between my fingers, I started tracing shapes which recalled women’s legs at an age when female anatomy was not at all interesting to me. Probably I was not more than five or six years old. I think that it all came from the fact that when I was a child I loved to leaf through the Paris fashion magazines my mother left scattered around the house: of course they had illustrations of women sometimes wearing lingerie or see-through negligées (…) I was fascinated by shapes, lines, graphic signs which lured my observing and precocious eye…