Divider
Fashion Comment Leave a Comment

Hubert de Givenchy: Farewell To A Legend 1927 – 2018

19 Shares

As we mourn the passing of one of fashion’s greats, many will pay tribute to the true aristocrat of fashion, Hubert de Givenchy.  But we would be remiss if we didn’t add our own thoughts on the passing at age 91 of this master of genius intuition and creativity.

Official Givenchy death announcemennt
Official  death announcemennt

Hubert de Givenchy

The list of “firsts” is long when admiring the career of Hubert de Givenchy. Giving birth to the little black dress, propagating separates of blouses, skirts and slacks as a way of life, and being one of the first to lend his name to a perfume, Givenchy had a vision and a knack for creating important trends that was undeniable.

Hubert Givenchy fashion inpiration

The Life of A Legend: Givenchy

He was an unlikely agent of change in the world of fashion. But like any other modern day wonder, he taught us to expect the unexpected and watch everyday miracles come to life. The son of a noble Parisian family, Givenchy was charting a course in law when his nagging intuition told him fashion was his passion. A gorgeous man who was nicknamed “Le Grand Hubert” for his 6’ 5” frame and refined look and carriage, Mr. Givenchy certainly had the air and appearance of someone who belonged in rarified circles of beauty and culture. His model good looks and gentlemanly charm positioned him well for a career in fashion where he would need to win over women at the highest echelons of society and this helped enable him to successfully convince his family that making the career change was a good idea.

Givenchy in his Paris shop in 1952; after opening his own house at the age of 24 he initially showed his clothes on mannequins to save on the cost of hiring models. Photograph: AP
Givenchy in his Paris shop in 1952; after opening his own house at the age of 24 he initially showed his clothes on mannequins to save on the cost of hiring models. Photograph: AP

He left for Paris post WW2 and was hired by Couturier Jacques Fath to sketch, cut, and fit haute couture styles. But his big break happened in Hollywood of all places when leading lady Audrey Hepburn approached him to design the costumes for  the romantic comedy “Sabrina”.  That, as we say in show biz, is how the star was born.

Audrey Hepburn in "Sabrina," 1954. Original sketch by Edith Head and Hubert de Givenchy
Audrey Hepburn in “Sabrina,” 1954. Original sketch by Edith Head and Hubert de Givenchy
Audrey Hepburn wears three dresses from the movie, "Sabrina," 1954 designed by Givenchy
Audrey Hepburn wears three dresses from the movie, “Sabrina,” 1954
Audrey Hepburn wears three dresses from the movie, "Sabrina," 1954 designed by Givenchy
Givenchy designing with Audrey hepburn on the set of Sabrina

Hepburn became a muse and best friend of the designer for over 40 years. Dressing her for the movie “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”, her Holly Golightly was by far and away the most notable and iconic character for Givenchy. A little black dress, opera length black gloves, and pearls was all it took to make his brand of simple elegance the gold standard.

Hubert de Givenchy for Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany 's (1961).
Hubert de Givenchy for Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany ‘s (1961).
Hubert de Givenchy with Audrey Hepburn in his Paris workshop. Photograph: Sunset Boulevard/Corbis/Getty Images
Hubert with Audrey Hepburn in his Paris workshop. Photograph: Sunset Boulevard/Corbis/Getty Images
Ms. Hepburn with Mr. Givenchy in 1988 when he received the state of California's Lifetime Achievement Award. Credit Ron Galella/WireImage, via Getty Images
Ms. Hepburn with Mr. Givenchy in 1988 when he received the state of California’s Lifetime Achievement Award. Credit Ron Galella/WireImage, via Getty Images

The name dropping of elite celebrity clients took off from there with Jackie Kennedy, Grace Kelly, and Liz Taylor among his ardent fans and supporters.  But what was so unique about Givenchy’s fashion is that it was almost more famous than the clients who commissioned it.

The name dropping of elite celebrity clients took off from there with Jackie Kennedy, Grace Kelly, and Liz Taylor among his ardent fans and supporters.
The name dropping of elite celebrity clients took off from there with Jackie Kennedy, Grace Kelly, and Liz Taylor among his ardent fans and supporters.
Grace Kelly and Jacqueline Kennedy during a visit of the Prince of Monaco to the White House. Grace Kelly wears a green dress by Hubert de Givenchy.
Grace Kelly and Jacqueline Kennedy during a visit of the Prince of Monaco to the White House. Grace Kelly wears a green dress by the designer
Jackie Kennedy wearing Givenchy
Headed For the White House. Washington, D.C.: John F. Kennedy, wearing top hat, and his wife, Jacqueline, leave their Georgetown home for the White House
Elizabeth Taylor (wearing Givenchy) from The V.I.P.s (1963)
THE V.I.P.S, Elizabeth Taylor, 1963 wearing Givenchy

Designer Hubert de Givenchy, pictured with the model Iman in 2002, was a giant of French fashion
Designer Hubert de Givenchy, pictured with the model Iman in 2002, was a giant of French fashion

Givenchy wasn’t just a pretty face and creative savant, he was a business guy who understood the numbers too. In the 1960’s he created a line of fine ready to wear and accessories to help further his bottom line. The risk paid off allowing him to buy out his investors and making him one of only a few Paris couturiers who privately owned their own label. In 1988 he subsequently sold his brand to mega French conglomerate LVMH, a parent company to other massive stars including Dior, Celine, Marc Jacobs, Pucci and Kenzo.

60s vintage Givenchy
60’s vintage
Suzy Parker in Hubert de Givenchy Coat, photographed by Georges Dambier for ELLE, 1954
Suzy Parker in Hubert de Givenchy Coat, photographed by Georges Dambier for ELLE, 1954
FRANCE - APRIL 27: The French fashion designer Hubert de GIVENCHY posing with his models, wearing the creations he made since 1952. (Photo by Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images)
FRANCE – APRIL 27: The French fashion designer posing with his models, wearing the creations he made since 1952. (Photo by Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images)
1965 Givenchy Paris show
1965 Givenchy Paris show
Givenchy A/W 1988/’89.
A/W 1988/’89.

Givenchy retired from the day to day in 1995 and lived a quiet life with his partner, and fellow French couturier, Philippe Venet. He was succeeded at the House of Givenchy by John Galliano, Alexander McQueen, Julien Macdonald, and Riccardo Tisci. The brand is currently under the direction of chief designer, Clare Waight Keller, the first woman to hold this title for the revereed brand.

Givenchy(L) with longtime partner Philippe Venet
Givenchy(L) with longtime partner Philippe Venet

The House of Givenchy remains as relevant today as it did at its inception. Still the first choice of many red carpet stars, Beyoncé’s sheer black Givenchy for the 2014 Met Gala Ball received worldwide acclaim.  And just last week it was Black Panther star Chadwick Boseman who shone brightest at this year’s Oscars wearing a custom Givenchy design the very same day that Clare Wight Keller’s second collection for the label wowed the fashion world in Paris.

Beyoncé’s sheer black Givenchy for the 2014 Met Gala Ball
Beyoncé’s in her infamous sheer black gown at the 2014 Met Gala Ball
Chadwick Boseman who shone brightest at this year's Oscars wearing a custom Givenchy design
Chadwick Boseman at the 2018 Oscars
Givenchy runway finale during the women's 2018/2019 fall/winter Paris Fashion Week shows
Fall/Winter  2018/2019 Paris Fashion Week show

Mssr. Givenchy was instrumental in teaching us that simple elegance could be chic and timeless, a lesson that bears even more importance in today’s world of fast, throw-away fashion.  May his legacy long be remembered.

As we mourn the passing of one of fashion’s greats, many will pay tribute to the true aristocrat of fashion, Hubert de Givenchy. 
As we mourn the passing of one of fashion’s greats, many will pay tribute to the true aristocrat of fashion, Hubert de Givenchy.
19 Shares