Our next Designer Spotlight is on the designer behind of one of the world’s most iconic couture houses, Hubert de Givenchy.
Givenchy has one of those old-money, aristocratic backgrounds typical of couturiers. He was born on February 21, 1927 in Beauvais, France. He attended art school, the Ecole Nationale Superieure des Beux-Arts in 1944 after his move to Paris. He considered law but decided on fashion.
At 17, Givenchy began an internship with Jacques Fath. He then went on to work for Lucien Lelong, Robert Piguet and Elsa Schiaparelli.
He founded Givenchy, his eponymous fashion house, in 1952. His first collection was called “Separates.” It was then unprecedented, a whole collection of versatile mix-and-match pieces. It was also an instant hit. One of the pieces was the “Bettina blouse,” named after model Bettina Graziani:
In 1953, Givenchy met Cristobol Balenciaga, who became a mentor to him. Together they created a new silhouette called “the sack” dress. It was a loose form without any waistline, designed for comfort.
Givenchy dressed almost every country’s leading lady, including Jackie O., Empress Farah Pahlavi of Iran, and Princess Grace of Monaco. His collections featured evening gowns and tailored suits – he embraced ’50s elegance. During the 1960s, Givenchy favored shorter hemlines and straighter, more “mod” silhouettes. By embracing the youth culture, he kept his house modern and catered to the next generation.
Name a More Iconic Duo
Givenchy was one half of fashion’s most famous friendship, the other being actress Audrey Hepburn. She was his muse, and he would go on to design outfits for her to wear both on-screen and off. He created that iconic little black dress from Breakfast at Tiffany’s and made the “Sabrina” neckline a thing. He even dedicated a whole spring/summer couture collection to Audrey.
“Audrey wore clothes with such flair…her chic and her silhouette grew ever more celebrated. Wrapping me in a radiance I could never have hoped for.” – Hubert de Givenchy
Givenchy would retire in 1995. That same year, his house would shed its classical couture reputation and grow into the cult fashion favorite it is today.
Today’s Givenchy is sleek, urban, and contemporary. That’s due to the designers that followed Givenchy’s retirement, which include names like John Galliano and Alexander McQueen. Today, the house is headed by Riccardo Tisci. With his “gothic ballerina” reinterpretation of the house, Givenchy lives on.
What do you think?
Is Givenchy one of your fashion favorites? What do you think of the house’s history and how it’s changed to become its modern incarnation? Tell us in the comments.