Rene Gruau Biography
a.k.a. RENATO DE ZAVAGLI
1910 - Born in Rimini (Italy), to a French mother (Marie Gruau)
1924 - Gives up his dream of becoming an architect. Brilliant draughtsman, first considers a career as an illustrator. Meets the editor for Lidel, a Milanese fashion magazine. She advises him to try fashion drawing. He publishes his first drawing at the age of fifteen.
1928 - Completes a number of drawings for Lidel.
1930-31 -Moves to Paris with his mother, and starts drawing for various newspapers and magazines (Le Figaro, Marianne), and is introduced to Christian Dior.
1935-39 -Works for a number of fashion magazines : Femina, Silhouettes, the Figaro magazine, Marie-Claire, L'Officiel. Also works for English and American publications.
1940-45 - Refugee in Lyon, where he contributes to the magazine Marie Claire (established in Lyon since the Occupation).
1946 -Starts working for the International textile review. From this date onward, the Gruau style splashes out across the pages of various publications.
1947 -First drawing to launch the perfume "Miss Dior" (white swan with a black bow tie and white pearls.) Symbol of elegance, refinement and feminine sophistication, which Gruau will celebrate in his drawings for contemporary haute couture designers : Rochas, Fath, Balenciaga, Balmain, Givenchy etc. This same evocation of luxury and refinement is evident in his posters for Diorella, Eau Sauvage, Jules and others.
1948 -Leaves for the United States, where he works for Harper's Bazaar, American Vogue, and the glossy Fashion, Arts and Society Review called Flair..
1949-1950 - Posters for the Rouge Baiser and Bas Scandale.
1954 -Poster for the Jean Renoir film "French Cancan".
1955 -Photography takes over illustrations and fashion drawings in several newspapers and fashion magazines. From this time on, most of Gruau's work will concern fashion advertising (fashion accessories, perfume, cosmetics, lingerie, fabrics etc.)
1956 -First Lido poster : "C'est magnifique!"
1961-70 -Show posters for the Lido, the Moulin Rouge, Roland Petit's Ballets… and also for Boussac fabrics, for Blizzard raincoats, etc.
1973 - Poster for Les Amants Terribles, at the Théâtre Montparnasse, and costume designs for the female lead, Danielle Darrieux.
1979-90 - Poster for Roland Petit's ballet Phantom of the Opera, poster for Fellini's film La Dolce Vita, for Lu biscuits, ETC.
1989 - René Gruau Exhibition at the Musée du Costume at the Palais Galliera (Paris). He continues to work for advertising, and starts drawing for fashion magazines again : Elle, Madame Figaro, Vogue, L'Officiel de la Couture.
1990-95 -Exhibitions of his work held in Cologne, Monaco, Japan and in Cannes. These exhibitions celebrate his contribution as the interpreter for some of the greatest names in fashion, perfume, and show business, talents to which he added his own particular skill, his particular style and above all the stamp of a certain refined elegance, and great modernity.
March 31, 2004 this fabulous artist passed on, but of course his legacy will live on through his creations.