Here is his obuitary from the Guardian:
"René Gruau (Count Renato Zavagli Ricciardelli delle Camminate), graphic artist, born February 4 1909; died March 31 2004" (from the Guardian 15 April 2004)Guardian obituaries
It says so little...In fact it was exactly Gruau that persuaded Dior to accept the offer of textile magnate Marcel Boussac to help establish a fashion house. After all not many know that Christian Dior began as an illustrator himself. The rest is of course history.
Born in Rimini, Italy, in 1910 as Renato Conte de Savagli-Ricardelli, he had a French mother, Marie Gruau, who was known as a great beauty and must surely be held responsible for providing the son with his first glimpse of beauty that culminated in his vision and aesthetic explorations.
Using a heavier charcoal outline or thick paint brush was his signature look at an era that preferred watercolours and delicate delineations. It was his modernity that differentiated him and which was a companion till the very end, making his work seem current even today in a world that has practically seen everything.
Apart from Dior he also did illustrations for Balmain, Lanvin, Schiaparelli and his favourite, Balenciaga. He was also instrumental in trying to give a younger image to Givenchy couture. Not to forget his work for films (who can forget his "La Dolce Vita" or "French CanCan" art posters?)and for "glossies": Flair, Vogue and Harper's Bazaar. His provision for Moulin Rouge and Lido remind us of another famous artist of posters with arguably low subjects turned into high art: Toulouse-Lautrec.
But his work for Dior parfums is crystallised someplace in the best part of perfume lovers' mind.
Gloriously simple, gloriously evocative.
Less intriguing than the previous incarnation, but just as playful.
A great artist and a witty man, to be sure.
If I have persuaded you to take an interest in this artist's work, take a moment to revel in these glorious fashion sketches....
We will continue with the Dior chypres shortly. Stay tuned!