René Gruau and Dior at Somerset House

The night before last, an exhibition called Dior Illustrated: René Gruau and the Line of Beauty opened at Somerset House in London.

The exhibition features a collection of beautiful watercolours by Gruau (pronounce it ‘grow’) who worked with Christian Dior as an illustrator for decades.

Originally created for advertising, the artwork on show evokes a lost past of now impossible-to-find style, from the days when men still wore hats and tipped them when they saw a lady.

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Though we're loathed to make the comparison (due solely to the show's ubiquity) the images conjure illusions of Mad Men-era glamour, despite the fact that Gruau was still working in the Eighties. Unlike the TV show however, the illusions conjured by Gruau's show are more of an elegant heaven than an emotional hell.

Of course, Gruau wasn’t solely concerned with women. He also produced some shocking (at the time) artwork for Christian Dior’s incredible Eau Sauvage aftershave, which we reproduce here.

"Dior Illustrated: René Gruau and the Line of Beauty" at Somerset House until 9th January 2011 www.somersethouse.org.uk

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