Monday, 25 August 2008

You talk like Marlene Dietrich and you dance like Zizi Jeanmaire

When Peter Sarstedt sang 'Your clothes are all made by Balmain, and there's diamonds and pearls in your hair', it's a pretty safe bet his muse wasn't wearing tartan bondage trousers and a lame singlet [much as I very, very much love Balmain's most recent offerings]. I want to live an elegant life like his St Moritz-hopping, Picasso-robbing heroine!

I like to think she would have looked like a cross between Grace Kelly and a Rene Gruau drawing.



I've become fixated on Gruau's drawings since a friend bought me a charming Gruau-illustrated birthday card the other week. They look the way I wish, WISH I could draw [and look] - all nonchalant, fearless brushstrokes, cigarette holders, inkpot eyes, insouciant, pointed little chins and ingenious bolts of colour. These are not chicks, girls, ingenues or even women - these here is LADIES.



He was the son of an Italian count and a French aristocrat - after they separated, he spent his childhood travelling Europe with his mother before pursuing a career in fashion illustration. Throughout the 1930s and early 40s he worked from Paris & Lyon, drawing for Marie Claire, L'Officiel and Vogue. After WWII, a meeting with Christian Dior injected his career with new energy - he created the inimitable image for the Miss Dior fragrance, and immortalised the New Look of the 40s & 50s and the designs of Dior, Balenciaga, Balmain, Schiaparelli and Givenchy. Right up to his death he was still illustrating for Elle, Figaro and Vogue - he never seemed to run out of inspiration and ideas.











[Images: Operagloves]

1910-2004. What a life!

13 comments:

Sister Wolf said...

gorgeous, thanks for posting these xo

enc said...

I'd forgotten about Gruau. Thanks for posting these images.

Make Do and Mend said...

Great images - I bought a few of his prints which are awaiting framing. Gruau was truly brilliant and yes I too wish I could transorm to such a society siren!

Charponnaise said...

Glad to see he's appreciated! One day in my beautiful Belgian apartment, between the 1930s lamps I will have exquisite framed Gruau prints on the walls. This will happen.

MJ said...

All so gorgeous, I have the Dior sketch hanging in my tiny bathroom and it completely dominates.

Johanne said...

great post;)Gruau's illustrations are gorgeous. I recommend the book " 100 years of fashion illustration" by cally blackman, if you're interested in fashion illustration. I like your blog!

toodles

Charponnaise said...

Thanks Johanne - that's definitely something I'll seek out! I'm fascinated by fashion illustration [partly because although I can draw, I can't begin to attempt the kind of quick, alive images that fashion illustration requires - I'm in awe of the whole practice.]

cybill said...

I never wanted to be the woman in that song, but I would have really liked to be one of her friends. When you get your Belgian apartment can we all dress up in our finery like Gruau's ladies and come over for tea?

Charponnaise said...

You can indeed! Leave the trappings of modern life at the door....

kpriss said...

I posted a monstruously long comment and lost it all (don't ask me why, I sometimes am the absolute computer wizard). However, I said something about the song, that my husband sent me one day and I didn't quite got into its vibe at first and now I listen to it with the greatest pleasure. And I think you should try out your drawing hand (I so wish I could draw!) and make paintings as amazing as these ones! (I'll make this part of my weekend blogs roundup)

choubelle said...

I love Gruau's work!! His use of blacks, reds on the white paper are fantastic...
xoxo
Choubelle

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