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René Gruau worked for numerous magazines including Marie-Claire, Femina, Elle, Vogue, Harper's Bazaar, Flair, L'Officiel, and Madame Figaro, and L'Officiel de la Couture. Gruau was hired by major designers like Pierre Balmain, Christian Dior, Jacques Fath, Balenciaga, Elsa Schiaparelli, Rochas, Lanvin, Elizabeth Arden, and Hubert de Givenchy.
René Gruau formed a friendship with Dior that contributed to their successful collaboration and further enlargement of fashion advertisement, which a primary reason he is mostly remembered for his work with Dior. Gruau moved to the United States in 1948 to work for Vogue and Harper's Bazaar. He remained with the magazine for two years, and then went to work as sole illustrator for Flair. There were exhibitions of Gruau's work at the Paris Musée du Costume in 1989 and Musée de la Publicité in 1999. Rimini, Italy's Riviera, has a permanent collection in its city museum. Today Gruau’s works are collected and exhibited by the finest art institutions including the Louvre in Paris.
René Gruaus illustrations were intensely very important in the haute couture world. Haute Couture is a French phrase for high fashion. Couture means dressmaking, sewing, or needlework and haute means elegant or high, so the two combined imply excellent artistry with the fashioning of garments. The purchase of an haute couture model garment is at the top level of hand customized fashion design and clothing construction made by a couture design house. A model haute couture garment is made specifically for the wearer's measurements and body stance.
During Gruau's lifelong career he collaborated with fashion houses such as Givenchy, Balenciaga, Lanvin, Schiaparelli and Dior in the fashion area of haute couture.
René Gruau's advertising campaigns for Moulin Rouge and Lido de Paris utilised an old-world aesthetic, celebrating the traditional poster-art graphics of Toulouse-Lautrec, Bonnard and the pre-1900 Parisian artists. He continued to work in advertising designing the hugely influential cinema poster for Fellini’s La Dolce Vita in 1959 and working on campaigns for names such as Dior, Air France, Martini and Omega watches. He has been exhibited internationally at the Paris Musee du Costume and The Musee de la Publicite.