René Gruau was a fashion illustrator whose portrayal of design through painting and distinctive efficient line work has had a lasting effect on the fashion industry.
Born Renato Zavagli Ricciardelli delle Caminate in Rimini, Italy, on 4 February 1909, Gruau was the son of an Italian count but instead of following in his father’s footsteps as a 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 and then took his mother’s last name. At 14, Gruau began to support his mother and himself by selling drawings to the Milanese fashion journal Lidel. Gruau became one of the best known artists of the haute couture world during the 1940s and 50s working with an assortment of high-style magazines.