La Gazette du Bon Ton was the most beautiful and luxurious fashion magazine published in the twentieth century. Begun in 1912 by the entrepreneurial Lucien Vogel, the periodical used the pochoir, or stencil, printing process. This technique allowed highly skilled artisans to hand color each illustration using as many as 30 stencils to achieve a freshness approaching an original watercolor.
Pochoir had been revived by Paul Poiret, the revolutionary Paris couturier, in his 1908 fashion album Les Choses de Paul Poiret illustrated by Paul Iribe. Rather than draw highly technical, realistic illustrations as was the fashion, Iribe drew in a linear style which simplified and elongated his models. He used unshaded blocks of color, empty backgrounds reminiscent of Japanese woodblock prints, and creative groupings of figures.
This marked the birth of modern fashion illustration, and the Gazette played a major role in promulgating the whirlwind changes that would occur over the next quarter century. Vogel took the unusual step of aligning the Gazette with the fashion designers, who submitted designs directly to it and created designs based on Bon Ton illustrations. Influences were as diverse as Japanese woodblocks, Matisse and the Fauves, Picasso and the Cubists, the Italian Futurists, and the exotic art of Egypt, Persia, Russia and Oceania.
At the Gazette, Vogel assembled a remarkable stable of creative talent that virtually created Art Deco graphic design. Many had trained at Paris’ Ecole des Beaux-Arts and were good friends. The original group included Georges Barbier, Georges Lepape, Charles Martin, Paul Iribe and Andre Marty. Latecomers included Erte, Robert Bonfils, Umberto Brunelleschi, Eduardo Garcia Benito, and the great poster artist Charles Loupot.
The Gazette remained the leading fashion magazine in France until it closed in 1925. The cost of pochoir and the improvement in other printing processes rendered the magazine less viable. Not surprisingly, the demise of this remarkable periodical coincided with the beginning of the decline of Art Deco shortly after the 1925 Paris Exposition of Decorative Arts.
An excellent source of information about Art Deco era fashion illustration is The Golden Age of Style by Julian Robinson.