Darling of the haute couture world, he was employed by Givenchy, Balmain, Rochas and Lanvin as well as countless glossy magazines... but it was his position as Artistic Director of Advertising for Dior that earned him the most kudos.
Original works for the brand, including sketches, vintage bottles and ads will be on display. Check out the L'Homme Gruau room for his contributions to classic men’s fragrances like Eau Sauvage and the kickass Jules.
Dior Illustrated: René Gruau and the Line of Beauty. From 10 Nov – 9th Jan at Somerset House, Strand, London WC2R 1LA
More on the image above after the jump…
"In 1966, the readers of Le Figaro were taken by surprise when they discovered a
pair of hairy legs drawn by René Gruau for Christian Dior’s new men’s fragrance,
Eau Sauvage, occupying a full page of the newspaper. Many questioned the
advertisement – with this drawing, René Gruau broke completely with classic
illustration and photography. The artist went on to propose several versions, all
completely different from the original bathrobe image. The naked legs appeared on
a beach, and even on a golf course with a golf club in the man’s hand. René Gruau
revitalized the image of Christian Dior Parfums and, two years before the events of
May 1968 in France, turned the archetypal image of masculinity upside down. For
the first time in the history of perfumery, men were offered a complete range of
grooming products, including balm, lotion, after-shave, talc and soap. The Dior man
took off his three-piece suit and joyously reinvented the shaving ritual. The man
with the hairy legs revealed himself a little more over the course of the advertising
campaign, giving the Eau Sauvage ads the feel of a striptease on paper.
In 1978, a new drawing showed his face, his back and even a glimpse of his
buttocks… To highlight the important role that women played in the success of
Eau Sauvage – they sometimes bought the fragrance for themselves, as it had a
unisex appeal – René Gruau asked one of his friends to kiss the advertising image.
Three red lipstick kisses covered the character’s cheek and marked a new chapter
in the Eau Sauvage story. Whilst producing sketches for the Dutch men’s fashion
magazine, Sir, René Gruau created one last campaign for Dior’s men’s fragrance
Jules and chose this time to re-interpret the iconic image of the black leather jacket.
Having surprised the 1966 man in the privacy of his bathroom, René Gruau was now
dressing him in a solid and reassuring shell. Again, the artist drew masculine codes
irreverently subverting them."