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George Barbier – Art Deco

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A look at One of the great French illustrators of the 20th century

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. 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.

George Barbier was one of the key artists of the “Art Deco” movement and one of the most prestigious French artist’s and fashion illustrators to emerge from post World War 1 in the early twentieth century. He was Born in Nantes, France on October 10, 1882, Barbier was 29 years old when he mounted his first exhibition in 1911 and was subsequently swept to the forefront of his profession

He gave new meaning to flamboyance with his portrayal of extravagant theater costumes of glittering rhinestones, towering headdresses and vast trains. Originally an illustrator for several prominent Paris fashion magazines, he revolutionized these publications into tools that defined women’s clothing styles. The arrival of Art Nouveau provided fertile ground for Barbier’s opulent fashions, and he was soon designing lavish costumes for cabarets, theaters and movies. He created costumes for the famous Folies Bergères, in addition to the entire wardrobe for the movie “Monsieur Beaucaire,” starring Rudolph Valentino. Barbier’s resplendent work continues to influence Vegas floor shows, major designers and costumers worldwide.

He dies at the height of his success in 1932. He is 50 years old and has no heirs. Six months later, his entire collection, including his priceless library is put up for auction in Paris and over the years, Barbier is only remembered in the field of the most refined collectors and bibliophiles.

Barbier’s drawings are still so popular that they continue to thrive in reprint form, and also on such varied objects as dishes, notebooks, stationary, and perfume bottles.

A great man who truly had a flair for creating such beautiful images and costumes that perhaps the world has ever seen. These designer outfits are a big favourite of mine and continue to this day to be a popular choice for people. The designs have never dated and people are still buying them today to wear.

Music is provided by Maurice jarre “It was a Good Time,” and is from the film Ryan’s Daughter.

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