It should come as no surprise that designer John Galliano was inspired by a '40s and '50s illustrator for Dior's Spring 2011 haute couture collection. Legendary fashion illustrator René Gruau was one of the best known and favorite artists of the haute couture world back in those decades. His artwork is recognized in some of Paris and Italy's most prestigious art museums including the Louvre in Paris. During Gruau's life-long career he collaborated with fashion houses such as Givenchy, Balenciaga, Lanvin and Dior.
Galliano made Gruau's illustrations come alive in gorgeous, voluminous skirt, pencil skirts and billowy tops cinched at the waist. While some looked like they'd been dipped in pale watercolors still others took on the form of bold paint strokes. Galliano also added calligraphic brushstrokes in the embroidery and beading, and showed fluidity of illustrative lines in ballgowns, which rose and fell like waves.
"Rene Gruau's crayons, his pencil marks and his paint strokes, all inspired us. I hope something of the results looked effortlessly chic," Galliano said backstage.
Aptly, the show was staged over a massively elongated runway in the garden of Paris' Rodin Museum.
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