Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Dames et des Modes

From The Costumer's Manifesto website:
There is very little information to be had on George Barbier as a person. Writers repeatedly mention his beautiful drawings and designs, but pass over the man himself with breathtaking consistency. (Perhaps when contrasted with his more exotic contemporaries, he seemed rather dull). Whatever the reason for this omission, this leaves us with only a poor understanding of his personality, and a great many drawings.

This, perhaps, is the better half of the bargain, since Barbier's work speaks for itself better than anyone could speak for Barbier. Barbier's career did not "take off" until he was thirty, but his drawings were so exceptionally good that his career could never said to have stopped going, even after his death.

George Barbier's career "started", for all practical purposes in 1912. Three important new Paris fashion magazines began publishing in that year and Barbier was made the principal illustrator for two of them. One of them, the Journal des Dames et des Modes lasted only two years but served to establish Barbier as a designer, since the illustrations in the magazine were not copies of couturier models but designs Barbier did himself. This allowed Barbier to exert an influence on fashion without actually running a couturier house himself.

A most influential and yet remarkably unsung artist, George Barbier had a fortunate career, emerging during one of the most exciting periods of fashion history - the inter-war years of the 20th century.

He worked on Diaghelev's Ballets Russes and the world-famous Folies Bergère; was a major player in the emergence of Art Deco, working alongside other major artists as Erté; provided illuminated images for elegant books of poetry by Verlaine and Baudelaire (among others); was commissioned by Rudolph Valentino and his wife Natacha Rambova as costume designer for their movie Monsieur Beaucaire and designed many of Josephine Baker's incredible costumes to boot!

Barbier died in 1932 at the height of his success, aged only 50, but his legacy still lives on in numerous reproductions on posters, greetings cards and ceramics.

More about George Barbier


  1. Fab illustrations! You do dig up some brilliant stuff...

  2. I do enjoy sharing my passion for the esoteric end of camp... Jx

  3. Brilliant, like being on the set of The Boyfriend... Whay don't we know more about him?


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