(Italian, 1909–2004) was a fashion illustrator, whose distinctive “New Look” of the 1940s revolutionized haute couture, theater, art, and commercial design. Born in Rimini, Gruau moved to Paris with his mother at the age of three. By 14, he was supporting himself by selling drawings to fashion magazine Lidel
, and later found work as an illustrator for Femina
, Marie Claire
, and Vogue
In 1947, Christian Dior
commissioned him to create the Miss Dior advertisement, an ad which garnered international attention, and launched Gruau’s career. Featuring his now-famous dramatic, minimal lines and bold, block colors, the image combined Dior’s designs with Gruau’s modern twist on the old-style graphic illustrations of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec
and Eastern painting techniques.
In 1948, he traveled to the United States to work for Harper’s Bazaar
, before becoming the exclusive artist for Flair
. Also during this time, he produced ads for Lido, Moulin Rouge, and Bemberg.
Over the next several decades, Gruau was employed by some of the most familiar names in haute couture, such as Balenciaga, Givenchy, Pierre Balmain
, and Lanvin
. His illustrations were featured in every major fashion magazine of the era, including ELLE
, Madame Figaro
, and L’Officiel de la Couture
. In 1959, he created the enormously influential poster for Federico Fellini
’s film La Dolce Vita
During his life, Gruau held shows in major museums around the world, including at the Paris Musée du Costume and the Musée de la Publicite. His works are also part of the permanent collections of institutions such as the Louvre in Paris.
He died in Rome at the age of 95.