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Fashion illustrator and spy, Brian Stonehouse.

Fashion illustrator and spy, Brian Stonehouse.

Recently in London Abbott & Holder Ltd. hosted an exhibition of the works by fashion illustrator Brian Stonehouse MBE, a British citizen who by the way, was also a spy. (MBE is Member of the Order of the British Empire, an honor bestowed by the reigning King or Queen of England.)

During WW II Mr. Stonehouse was parachuted into occupied France disguised as a French art student (he spoke fluent French and had studied art in Ipswich). He communicated with the British army via a radio placed inside his paint box. But after just three months he was caught and arrested by the Gestapo. For the next two and a half years he was tossed around in prisons and concentration camps ending up in Dachau until the allied liberation in 1945.

It is said that his talent and skill as an artist saved his life as he charmed guards with sketches and drawings.

Stonehouse-Folder2-90589After the war he moved to New York City and worked first as a society portraitist and later in fashion illustration, getting a gig with Vogue in 1952. As photography took favor in fashion by the early 60s, Mr. Stonehouse ended his career with Vogue in 1962.

He returned to England in 1979 and died in 1998.

What a life – stylish intrigue and bravery, too. I’d go see that movie.

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