Parisian illustrator known for his collaboration with Paul Poiret on the album Les Choses de Paul Poiret vues par Georges Lepape and the illustrated covers he produced for American, French and British editions of Vogue.
Lepape was born in Paris, where he lived all throughout his life. He received his artistic training at the École des Beaux Arts and studied in the studio of the historical painter Fernand Cormon, where he formed friendships with top artists of his generation. In 1911, Paul Poiret introduced him into the world of fashion illustration, giving him complete artistic freedom in creating the album Les Choses de Paul Poiret vues par Georges Lepape. Lepape continued his career as a fashion illustrator contributing to La Gazette du bon ton, Modes et Manières d’aujourd ‘hui and Harper’s Bazar and Femina. Following WWI, Lepape taught for twelve years at the New York School of Fine and Applied Art in Paris.
Georges LePape born on the Rue Montaigne May 26, 1887 and by the age of eighteen enrolled in the Ecole des Beaux-Arts. At age 20 Lepape had already formed strong liaisons with such notable artists as Georges Braque, and Marie Laurencin. His first Salon submissions came the year prior to his 1909 marriage to Gabrielle Lausanne, and one year later he formed his historical collaboration with Paul Poiret. Over the next ten years, Poiret would become Paris’s leading haute couture designer and Lepape would be recognized as one of the world’s most brilliant fashion illustrators.
Beginning with the exclusive limited edition album “Les Choses de Paul Poiret”, Lepape introduced the ideas of “motion” and “story” to fashion illustration by showing some models actually leaving the viewing frame and by turning their backs to the viewer. These illustration techniques were further developed with publisher Lucien Vogel between 1912 and 1925 as Lepape became one of the primary contributors to the famous Gazette du Bon Ton. By 1920 Lepape was at the very top of his profession. He had completed a prolific decade of work, including illustrations for the houses of Worth, Lanvin, Paquin, Doucet, Beer among others, cover work for Harper's Bazaar and the first cover for Vogue Magazine (Oct.1916, English edition), numerous commissions for fur, perfume and other luxury goods producers, illustrations for theatre programs (particularly for the Ballets Russes), costume and set designs for Marcel L’Herbier and a series of posters for Galeries Lafayette.
In 1920 the Musee des Arts Decoratifs held the first major exhibition of his work. He followed this with major contributions that year to the post-war re-introduction of Gazette du Bon Ton, to Paul Poiret’s European Tour, to the introduction of Vogue France and with the publication of a special edition of Modes et Manières d'aujourd'hui featuring twelve of his new fashion plates. The following years saw continued high demand for Lepape’s talents and a branching out to include catalogue illustration, film posters and even some minor industrial design.
Conde Nast invited Lepape to New York in 1926, further cementing a long and profitable relationship with Vogue as that publication took over Gazette du Bon Ton. He illustrated eight of the Vogue covers in 1927 plus covers for Vanity Fair, while continuing to expand his client list to include Hermes, Wanamaker’s Department Store and Femina Magazine, among others, and to further increase his visibility in the theatrical world.
George Lepape remained a prolific and sought-after working artist right up to the time of his death, at age 84, on Feb 15, 1971. His works have been shown at several major exhibitions including the Palais Grenvelle in 1963, the Musee des Arts Decoratifs again in 1966 and the Minneapolis Institute of Arts in 1971.