Images by Christian Bérard
Christian Bérard, an artist/illustrator/interior decorator/set designer/man-about-town who lived and worked in Paris in the early 20th century, is one of those rare talents whose work blurs academic and commercial lines. Even back in his day, Bérard’s many critics didn’t quite know how to explain why his fashion illustrations undermined his formal portrait studies at the same time his set designs for the Ballets Russes and costumes for Jean Cocteau’s 1946 film La Belle et la Bête enchanted viewers and inspired couture designers, including the creative’s good friends Elsa Schiaparelli and Christian Dior. Similar to Dior, Bérard died suddenly and left a timeless body of work—perhaps less universally recognized, yet likewise influential. His spirited drawings for Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar imbue the era’s styles with life in a way that highlights the unique and vanishing medium of fashion illustration.