Transatlantic Glamour : The Fashion Illustrations of René de Bouët-Willaumez

Transatlantic Glamour : The Fashion Illustrations of René de Bouët-Willaumez

With Laurent Cotta from the Palais Galleria / Musée de la Mode de la Ville de Paris

Thursday, October 8 at 12:00 p.m.
$10 members · $20 non-members · $40 V.I.P
Online via Zoom · In English

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12:00 p.m. (Chicago), 1:00 p.m. (New York) and 7:00 p.m. (Paris)

In conversation with Sylvie Berkowicz

VIP tickets: Hang out with our guests after the event thanks to a separate zoom link. Limited availability, reserve early!

The French liked to think that without Parisian fashion exportations all over the world, elegance simply would not exist…

This idea is perhaps not wrong regarding the close relations established around fashion between Paris and the United States between the second half of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, as evidenced by the collections of Parisian haute couture dresses kept in museums in New York, Philadelphia or Chicago where high society dressed in Paris.

Things changed in the 1920s and especially in the 1930s when Parisian couturiers discovered the potential of American ready-to-wear and traveled to the United States to study its principles and business opportunities. During this same period Hollywood cinema became incidentally a new vector of fashion. Costume designers, inspired by the fashion of Paris, soon created their own aesthetic. The stars proposed new attitudes to fashion, displayed new styles that were broadcasted worldwide by this new medium infinitely more popular and democratic than the major fashion magazines of the day.


The French illustrator, René de Bouët-Willaumez (1900-1979), who worked for the French, British and American editions of Vogue magazine, moved to New York in 1939 and Vogue US became its main sponsor. His style offered a synthesis between Parisian Chic, the sporty and casual style of New Yorkers but also the Hollywood glamour. The “Americanization” of his production would be confirmed during the 1940s. The narrative nature of his compositions owed much to the cinema as well as the ideal morphology of his models or their attitudes straight out of the film "The Women" by George Cukor. His work on color as well, to a large extent, could well be inspired by the chromatic range of Technicolor.

In these same decades, and as we speak of a Transatlantic English language, could we not mention a “Transatlantic Fashion” or style in Bouët-Willaumez’ fashion illustrations, an harbinger for the even more fruitful and complex collaborations between France and the United States in the 1950s as summarized in a film such as "Funny Face"?


A closer look at the series of 40 original drawings of this artist in the Graphic Arts Department of the Palais Galliera –Fashion Museum of the City of Paris– may give a few answers to this question. 

Special thanks to the Musée de la Mode de la Ville de Paris / Palais Galliera for permission to use illustrations.


Art and fashion historian, Laurent Cotta has spent twelve years in charge of the Contemporary Creation Department in the Palais Galliera / Musée de la Mode de Paris. Since 2013, he has been developing the Graphic Arts Department of this museum to enrich it with the works of recent fashion illustrators.

Laurent curated several exhibitions and manifestations dedicated to fashion, amongst them: Modes à Suivre (2000 and 2002), Madame Carven, Grand Couturier (2002), Sylvie Vartan, Revue de Mode (2004), Popy Moreni (2005) and the 60th anniversary of the creation of ELLE magazine exhibition in the Galeries Lafayette department store in 2005. He also co-curated, with Olivier Saillard, Madame Grès, La Couture à l’Oeuvre at the musée Bourdelle; Le XVIIIe au goût du jour at the Grand Trianon in Versailles (2011); and Madame Grès, sculturale Mode at the MoMu in Antwerp (2013). 

Laurent Cotta also has been teaching Fashion Curating at Parsons Paris since 2018; Fashion History at the IFM since 2015; and Contemporary Fashion for the Chair of Fashion History at the Ecole du Louvre in 2010. He is the author of a monograph about Jean Charles de Castelbajac: My Way (TeNeues, 2017).


In October 2011, he gave a series of lectures about Yves Saint Laurent for the Alliance Française in thirteen cities in the United States of America and in Canada. He participates regularly in the Fashion Programs organized by the Alliance Française in Chicago.


Based in Paris, Sylvie Berkowicz is a lifestyle reporter for television. She directed and hosted seven season of Le Mixeur, a production of TV5 Monde on global gastronomy, and contributed to the Musique Plus network in Montreal for many years. Now journalist for the written press with a special interest for les arts de vivre –fashion, voyages, food, design, architecture– Sylvie is an “inexorable parisienne”.


This series is curated by Alexander Aubry; Patrizia di Carrobio; and Aimée Laberge – in partnership with the Fashion Resource Center the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC).



Free admission for this program is offered to students in Fashion Studies at the School of the Art Institute in Chicago. This project is partially supported by a CityArts Grant from the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs & Special Events.


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