The connection between fashion and theater is – and has always been – very tight. Rene Gruau, who’s full name was Renato Zavagli Ricciardelli delle Caminate is, in my humble (ok, not so humble) opinion, one of the poster artists who’s work has influenced, and was influenced by, the beautiful women – notably of the Parisian hotspot known as the Moulin Rouge.
Gruau was the son of an Italian count but instead of following in his father’s footsteps and accepting the job of royal military commander his passion and inclination for arts led him to a love and pursuance of fine arts.
When René’s mother, Maria Gruau, a French aristocrat, and his father separated when he was three, he moved to Paris with her. Gruau then took his mother’s last name, which is the name he is known by, opposed to his father’s last name and royal connection and at 14, Gruau began to support his mother and himself by selling drawings to the Milanese fashion journal Lide. He demonstrated talent for drawing throughout much of his early life and worked as an illustrator for fashion magazines such as Femina, Marie Claire and Vogue in Paris in his teens and ea
When I talk about Gruau, which I do often as we carry many of his posters, I often say that it was clear that he LOVED women. Whether he was portraying the proud – and generally topless – ladies of the cabaret, or fully clothed fashion plates, in each and every one of his works there is a whiff of sexuality, an appreciation of feminine beauty and a signature style full of panache and wit.
Perhaps inspired by Gruau, Christian Louboutin (he of the red undersoles), worked with the Crazy Horse cabaret in Paris to create a show which featured scantily clad, dancing showgirls in Louboutin pumps. Love the shoes, but what I wouldn’t pay to have a body like these girls… oh well: that’s the beauty of posters and fashion – they make you WANT, they make you ASPIRE, and they remind you that even if you can’t have that body, or those shoes, you can at least have the poster…