When Art Meets Fashion: Dior & Rene Gruau

When Art Meets Fashion: Dior & Rene Gruau

Fashion, in its purest form, is wearable art

The collaboration between art and fashion is not a new phenomenon. Over the last century artists; many designers have drawn inspiration from artists and art movements to create collections that made art more widely available to the masses. This connection is sometimes missed but the connection between art and fashion is something not to be ignored. Fashion, as Poiret considered it, is a form of artistic expression and over time, artists and art movements have proved to be a prevalent source of inspiration for designers. The relationship between art and fashion has overlapped and intermingled since the first half of the 20th century and it appears to be intensifying. Artists use paintings and artwork as reflections of cultural and economic changes, in the same way designers use clothing styles to do the same. Furthermore, artists and art movements as a source of inspiration has been a constant feature in the fashion industry, dating back to Elsa Schiaparelli and her collaboration with Salvador Dali, the Piet Mondrian inspired YSL collection and even brands such as Prada using street art as a source of inspiration for their SS14 collection.

One of my favourite collection ever is Dior’s Spring Summer 2011 couture collection by John Galliano. The collection was inspired by the work of René Gruau, a famous artist-illustrator. It was a gorgeous exploration of the relationship between the haute couture of Dior and René Gruau. The starting point for this collection was clearly a direct homage to the illustrations of René Gruau, who has a close relationship with the Dior House.  With this collection, John Galliano brought René Gruau’s work to life and was also able to harken to Christian Dior’s love of art. Before Christian Dior started designing, he was a gallerist in Paris.
Rene Gruau and art
René Gruau’s illustrations were an apt source of inspiration for Galliano’s SS11 collection as Gruau’s bold lines and fluid style was perfectly in tune with the spirit of Dior. Gruau was involved with creating illustrations of Dior perfumes, magazine sketches and haute couture designs and his collaborations with Christian Dior and the House of Dior marked his reputation as an illustrator. Starting in 1947 with Dior’s New Look, Gruau’s relationship with the Dior continued even after Christian Dior’s death. The use of fluid lines, graceful poses, and the bold use of color made René Gruau a genius at creating a masterpiece of simple elegance. His sketches featured wasp-like waists, enormous bows, black-gloved arms and long legs, elements that Galliano was able to capture beautifully with the collection. The recreation of pencil strokes and the imitating of watercolors created an impressive and extravagant effect.
“To be inspired by Dior is to be inspired by René Gruau”
John Galliano 
The relationship between the Dior House and art is prominent throughout out their collections. Christian Dior designed dresses that were clearly influenced by art especially the impressionist movement. Christian Dior was fascinated with color and flowers, and it was demonstrated throughout most of his collections.

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