René Gruau and Dior opens at Somerset House

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Rene Gruau for Miss DiorHow appropriate that today I slicked on my one Dior lippy. Tonight Somerset House’s Embankment Galleries are humming with anticipation of new exhibition Dior Illustrated: René Gruau and The Line of Beauty, which opens to the public tomorrow, November 10, and runs to January 9, 2011. Described by the lovely and uber-talented David Downton as ‘the fashion illustrator’s illustrator’, Gruau is perhaps best known for creating advertising for Dior in a relationship which lasted over 50 years from the 1940s.

The huge influence of Gruau’s hand-drawn, evocative, painterly style can be seen in the work of many of today’s illustrators. While he saw much change during his career, he stopped work as the digital landscape exploded, changing the way we create forever. This exhibition seems to capture the current zeitgeist for creative solutions which hark to an analogue, pre-digital era, almost as an attempt to counterbalance the fast-paced advances in communication technologies we’re currently experiencing. Demonstrating the continued relevance of illustration, alongside Gruau’s body of work hang illustrations inspired by his iconic images, created by contemporary illustrators, as well as a fabulous dress designed by Galliano in homage.

I’ve had the privilege of being able to include the work of some brilliantly talented illustrators in projects I’ve worked on, including David Downton, Daisy de Villeneuve, Natasha Law and Montana Forbes, and I am a huge, huge fan of the genre. A lapsed illustrator, I long to pick up my pastels and put nib to paper; I think that perhaps being only connected to that surface and that space, and nowhere further, appeals as a welcome antidote to my day job as a writer and content producer for digital media, with its constant pressure for connection; really, I should be getting my beauty sleep right now, but feel compelled to blog my excitement about thsi major Gruau showcase…

A thriving hothouse of fashion, film and arts, Somerset House has steadily been building its roster of creative companies housed within its glamorous walls. British Fashion Council HQ, Fashion Fringe winners Jena.Theo‘s appointment as Designers in Residence, the current Matthew Williamson display and the team behind The LFW Daily just a taster of the fashionable inhabitants which spring immediately to mind. The energy of the place is palpable – and the riverviews second-to-none!

Dior Illustrated runs at Embankment Galleries, Somerset House, until January 9, 2011. Tickets are £6, £5 conc, under 12s free. I am so there…

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