The only limits we have are the ones we place on ourselves. Â This is something I am continually reminded Â of. Â My fascination with fashion history only leads me to discover more and more incredible people that realized their full potential. Â One of those people isÂ Marcel VertÃ¨s.
MarcelÂ VertÃ¨s illustration for Elsa Schiaparelli’s perfume, Shocking. Â Illustration completed c. 1937. Â Image courtesy of McCormick Interiors.
Marcel VertÃ¨s (1895 – 1961) was a Hungarian-born artist, fashion illustrator, costume designer, and textile designer. Â He was most prolific from 1933 to 1952, during which he divided his time between New York and Paris.
Â MarcelÂ VertÃ¨s illustration of a Lilly DachÃ¨ hat, 1943. Â Image courtesy of HPrints.
VertÃ¨s was a real renaissance man. Â His creativity seems boundless to me – he created sets for theater, illustrated for major fashion magazines, painted, and even ventured into the fashion world. Â He illustrated advertisements throughout his career, most notably for Elsa Schiaparelli. Â He also worked for major magazines, like Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue. Â (Illustration was so prevalent during the 1940s because of rationing of supplies needed for photography. Â Illustrations continued to be popular in the 1950s. Â I really recommend looking at the work of Rene Gruau if you enjoy fashion illustrations!)
MarcelÂ VertÃ¨s illustration for The Ballet Theatre Souvenir Program, c. 1943. Â Image courtesy of Meteorology.
In 1952,Â VertÃ¨s won two Academy Awards for his work on the film Moulin Rogue. Â This film was set in late 19th century Paris, and followed the career of artist Henri Toulouse-Lautrec. Â Toulouse-Lautrec explored the nightlife in Paris, including the burlesque clubs. Â His Academy Awards were for Best Artistic Direction and Best Costume Design.
Later, in 1956,Â VertÃ¨s designed the costumes and props for the Ringling Brothers’ Circus. Â The costumes were wildly sexy. Â Critics said thatÂ VertÃ¨s had turned a family event into a “night time circus”. Â I’ll let you be the judge . . .
Costume design byÂ MarcelÂ VertÃ¨s for the John Ringling North circus, c. 1956. Â Image courtesy of Showbiz David.
Prior to all this erotica,Â VertÃ¨s had designed textiles for Wesley Simpson. Last week, I wrote a little bit about the collaboration between textile designers and artist. Â These collaborations were not only beautiful and interesting, but they stimulated the Postwar economy. Â The Metropoltian Museum of Art has several examples ofÂ VertÃ¨s’ textile designs:
MarcelÂ VertÃ¨s textile design forÂ for Wesley Simpson, 1944. Â Used for dress design by Hattie Carnegie. Â Image courtesy ofÂ The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
MarcelÂ VertÃ¨s textile design forÂ for Wesley Simpson, 1944. Â Used for dress design by Adele Simpson. Image courtesy ofÂ The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Seeing that one person could do all of this inspires me beyond words. Â And I hope it inspires you!