Skip to main content

In the decade since artist Joe Eula's death in 2004, the former New York Times fashion critic Cathy Horyn has written about him several times, first in his obituary for that newspaper and later when she revisited his work for the short-lived British journal Pourquoi Pas? in 2007. In between, in an article for the now-defunct Canadian fashion magazine The Look, Horyn recalled how she had entered Eula's life in 2001 "on the pretext of interviewing him for a book I was working on with Bill Blass. But in truth I was curious about Joe."

A dancer from the Flamenco Puro Dance Company (no date). (Illustrations courtesy of harperdesign)

The strands of that curiosity and Horyn’s subsequent research come together in her new book with Eula archivist and art executor Melisa Gosnell, Joe Eula: Master of Twentieth-Century Fashion Illustration (HarperDesign, $85). The tome is the first published work dedicated to a great whose career spanned 50 years but who has largely been forgotten – this despite his prolific talent and his wide-ranging social and professional contacts. Eula was, for instance, the creative director for Halston during his 1970s heyday; he also did the drawings for Eloise creator Kay Thompson’s saucy 1970 abecedary, Miss Pooky Peckinpaugh and Her Secret Private Boyfriends.

An illustration of Liza Minnelli from 1972.

Horyn calls Eula a “great crossover artist,” one who documented everyone from Louis Auchincloss to Liza with a Z. She sets the scene by opening her biographical chapter with Eula encountering Coco Chanel in her Paris salon in 1962, covers the war hero’s early assignments for Eugenia Sheppard at the New York Herald Tribune and examines his work as a stylist and set designer for photographer Milton H. Greene. Eula’s own words, gleaned from interviews and other sources (such as an unpublished 1989 memoir proposal), inform the book.

A watercolour of Christian Lacroix ensembles for Italian Harper’s Bazaar in the 1980s.

Deliciously and extravagantly, the volume is also thick with sketches, posters and finished illustrations – more than 200 images in total, including such projects as his 1990 program for a Christian Dior couture show, a Miles Davis album cover (1961’s Sketches for Spain) and posters for the 1964 Broadway production of High Spirits, starring Beatrice Lillie and Tammy Grimes.

What every breezy line and whimsical gesture captures is his sense of motion, his desire for meaning and his own restless energy. The book is a fitting reflection of his work.

A 1990 Christian Dior collection program
Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Comments

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • All comments will be reviewed by one or more moderators before being posted to the site. This should only take a few moments.
  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed. Commenters who repeatedly violate community guidelines may be suspended, causing them to temporarily lose their ability to engage with comments.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.