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Art Watch : Alfredo Bouret

Alfredo Bouret is our Art Watch Artist for today. This section is brought to you by Art From Us and Divvya Nirula. The Artists we spotlight here can be from any field, across any discipline, and using a variety of media. We share here why we think they are important and worth – watching. Be it genius creators of eras gone by or the upcoming contemporary artist who is yet to have their first show. All come under the purview of Art Watch. 

Drawing for Fashion

Alfredo Bouret is one of fashions most celebrated illustrators. He drew for fashion royalty and well as fashion for royalty. He was highly acclaimed for his classicism and his impeccable line. It set him apart and he is an inspiration for many. 

Bouret was born in 1926 as Alfredo Gonzalez Acevez. He grew up in Coyoacan, a small Mexico City, principally a suburb, popular today as the home of the art world’s darling, all things feminism and lovers of progressive thought -Frida Kahlo.

As a young man, Bouret studied part-time at the Mexican School of Art till the 1940s. He started working when he was young and he says that he cannot ever remember a time when he was not without a sketching instrument. His first few assignments were working in advertising studios, and later as a costume designer for movies. Alfredo left Mexico for Paris after winning a design scholarship. His big break finally came when his drawings won him a trip to France in 1947.

Known simply as Bouret, as though his name was the passport to many forbidden and famous addresses, he drew for the front runners of fashion. Balenciaga, Chanel, Vogue, sought him out for his elegant and timeless aesthetic. He drew for real royalty too — from Princess Anne and Princess Margaret to Princess Diana, with who his Latin-inspired designs found special admiration.

“I’m in my own world. It’s wonderful. I feel I’m flying. It’s a wonderful sensation.” Says the man who considered drawing and life to be in and out of each other – he likened it to a way of life for him, it is what he knew and what he loved.

Alfredo Bouret : Rise to Fame

Pierre Balmain briefly employed Bouret as an apprentice designer. Further, French and British Vogue features numerous of his illutrations, from 1948 right up till  1962. 

He was famous internationally, in Paris, London and Sydney. Moreover, he sketched outfits designed by a young and upcoming Pierre Cardin. And an aging Coco Chanel employed him. This alone speaks volumes for his work. Cristobal Balenciaga had a reputation for not allowing anybody into his studios. Bouret was the only one who was allowed.

“Balenciaga had an aversion to attention and never granted an interview. He rarely saw his loyal clients and had his minions rebuff hopeful customers with a curt: ‘Curious women are not welcome here.”  It is quoted in ‘The Man Who Drew Balenciaga’ by the fashion writer Marion Hume.

Speaking about the changes that he registered in the Fashion industry, Bourdet says –“Fashion photography became more and more the medium, and the model girls became the queens. The interest in fashion drawing was going out, so I saw a red light and decided that I’d better do something about it before I was made redundant.”

He opened his first boutique in London called ‘Mexicana’. Here he exclusively sold clothes designed by himself. The objective of the line was to echo the styles of his native country. And this trend took off immediately. Owing to the success he opened stores in Sydney, in 1969, under the name of ‘Mexican Bazaar’. 

Bouret settled in Sydney with his long-term partner and interior designer – Lex Robert Aitken, in 1985. He became an Australian citizen in 1990. Bouret continued to work right till the end. He was heartbroken after the death of his partner. Thus he moved with his family, and died in 2018.

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