1902 – 1949
Known affectionately as Bébé, Christian Bérard was a flamboyant figure in the creative bohemia of Paris in the 1930s and 40s. As a painter, he studied at the prestigious Lycée Janson de Sailly, Paris and with Édouard Vuillard at the Académie Ranson. The influence of Vuillard and the advent of surrealism is clearly evident in Bérard’s work. He was an adventurous colourist with a free style that highlighted elegance, without severe delineation, bringing an ethereal quality to his work whether in fashion illustration, portraiture, interior design or set and costume design. As a fashion illustrator Bérard drew most frequently for Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar, Schiaparelli, Chanel, Patou and Dior. His relationship with Christian Dior was perhaps the most important. Accompanying Dior from the onset of his arrival in Paris, Bérard was one of a group of well-known poets, artists and composers who influenced Dior’s move into the world of fashion. And when Dior launched the House of Dior in 1947, it was Bérard who advised on the interior design of 30 Avenue Montaigne and who illustrated what was to become one of the most well-known depictions of the famous Bar Suit from Dior’s first collection. Bérard was also instrumental in bringing French haute couture back into the public eye when he designed the sets and catalogues in 1945 for the Théâtre de la Mode. In film and theatre, Bérard collaborated with Jean Cocteau and Serge Lifar creating the set design and costumes for the haunting film La Belle et la Bête (1949). Bérard died at just 47 whilst on stage in Paris. His work is held in the permanent collections of MoMA, New York and The Victoria & Albert Museum, London.