Charles Gesmar - Artist, Illustrator and Costume Designer

Charles Gesmar - Artist, Illustrator and Costume Designer

Posted by Sophia Howell on

Charles Gesmar - Illustrator and Artist 1920s

Charles Gesmar, born May 21st 1900, was one of the greatest designers of costumes and posters during the golden age of the Paris music hall.  Not much is known about his life as Gesmar tragically died young, just before his 28th birthday in 1928. 

Mitty and Tillio, by Gesmar 1920s

Comoedia Illustré magazine Andrée Spinelly, by Gesmar - 1919
Gesmar’s aptitude for drawing was apparent at an early age and he attended art school to develop his talent further.  When he was only 15 years old, Gesmar met Mlle Spinelly, the famous actress-dancer who had previously been the love interest and muse of couturier Paul Poiret.  She was so impressed with Gesmar’s work that she asked him to design costumes for her.  

Mistinguett, by Gesmar 1917

His work was so good, that Gesmar quickly began designing for other shows, artists and Music Halls including, L’Arciduc, a show at the Folies Bergere (October 1916) and produced illustrations for La Baionette, La Vie Parisienne, and Fantasio and Le Rire.

Marion Forde, by Gesmar 1926
In 1917, Gesmar met caberet artist Jeanne Bourgeois, known as Mistinguett and began designing her extravagant costumes of bright colours with sequins, feathers and silks. Mistinguett has been quoted as saying ‘there was no-one like Gesmar for concocting a stage costume out of brilliants and plumes and ospreys.’

Gilda Gray by Gesmar, 1925

During the 1920s, Gesmar’s work was in demand from all the music halls in Paris and across Europe.  Other than Mistinguett, he designed for artists including Jane Marnac, Maurice Chevalier, Marion Forde and Gilda Gray.  

Costume Design by Gesmar

During his short life, Germar’s body of work was prolific.  He designed around 12,000 costumes and produced 200 illustrations and 60 posters that capture the spirit of the Jazz Age and Art Deco. 

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