Before you saw her clothing in those iconic photographs shot by famous photographers like Richard Avedon, and Henry Clarke, and long before Karl Lagerfeld started drawing fashion sketches for her fashion house, Coco Chanel's designs were being drawn by some of the world's most renowned fashion illustrators.
But, as prominent and talented as these 1920's and 1930's fashion illustrators were, very little is known about their lives personally. Many of the earliest illustrations aren't even signed, and of those that were, I was able to find some basic biographical information about some of them - minor facts like their birth dates, deaths and perhaps education, but most of them seem to have minimal information available. Malaga Grenet and Christian Berard had the most information available, but some, like Carl Erickson, his wife Lee Creelman Erickson, Schompre, Douglas Pollard, Reynaldo Luza, E. Lindner, and Pierre Mourgue really have very little written about them.
Originally known for his contributions to the Gazette du Bon Ton of Paris, Pierre Mourgue began illustrating for Vogue when Conde Naste bought the Gazette in the 1920s.
Artist Jean Cocteau and Coco Chanel were great friends, collaborators and inspirations to each other during their lifetimes.
Leon Benigni was born in 1892 and was not only an illustrator, but a draftsman and a lithographer,
It's hard to believe that these important illustrations, that have been immortalized by fashion historians and collectors, were created by seemingly anonymous artists known only by their signatures. Maybe the fact that they were happy drawing designs created by other people meant that they were humble by nature, or maybe the fashion industry, even in its infancy, was more focused on the designers themselves and didn't see the need to highlight the work of those behind the scenes. I am personally grateful for the beautiful images those talented individuals have left with us and hope that their talents will one day receive the recognition and attention they so richly deserve.