What if your favorite fashion designer teamed up with a car manufacturer? You could roll in style like the celebrities in your luxury vehicle that is the height of sophistication and style. Hubert de Givenchy made that happen in the 70s and 80s.
The name Givenchy is synonymous with some of the finest fashion designs in history. But the name is so much more than the fashion house.
Givenchy served as a model for a generation of dapper designers who founded their couture firms in postwar Paris, cultivated close ties with clients, and developed entire collections with certain women in mind.
The “Bettina blouse,” a tribute to his original model and muse Bettina Graziani, the top model in Paris at the time who had joined his fledgling company as the director of public relations, saleswoman, and fit model, was featured in his very first show, which was a huge hit with buyers and the media when it was presented in February 1952, when he was only 24. Bettina Graziani had been his original inspiration.
Soon after, Givenchy caught the eye of the young Ms. Audrey Hepburn, a budding star who was so taken with his fresh designs that she had he make her garments for almost all of her films, helping to create her sylphlike image in the process.
Keep reading to learn some little known facts about the famous designer behind the label.
1. He Has an Aristocratic Heritage
The younger of Béatrice Badin’s two sons, Count Hubert James Marcel Taffin de Givenchy was born on February 21, 1927, in Beauvais, France. His parents were Lucien Taffin de Givenchy, the marquis of Givenchy, and Béatrice Badin, also known as Sissi. His father’s family had been elevated to the nobility in the 18th century, while his mother’s family had strong ties to Beauvais’s famous tapestry weavers.
Hubert and his brother, Jean Claude, were raised by their mother and maternal grandparents when their father, Lucien, passed away from influenza in 1930. He was exposed to the high textile handicraft from a young age. He was 6’5″ tall, and always exuded elegance. His family has roots tracing to Venice, Italy. That air of sophistication and elegance that he had was for a good reason as his family was ennobled in 1713 and made a Marquis of Givenchy. He was French though.
When Hubert was ten years old, the family went to a fair in Paris that had been planned by the fashion designer Jeanne Lanvin and featured a showcase of clothes by Chanel, Elsa Schiaparelli, and other designers. Givenchy later recalled this incident as having influenced his career.
Hubert de Givenchy relocated to Paris at the age of seventeen to attend the Ecole Nationale Superieure des Beaux-Arts. He had thought about going into law, but changed his mind and decided to work in the fashion industry instead.
In 1945, Hubert de Givenchy created his first design while serving as an apprentice for fashion designer Jacques Faith. Additionally, he collaborated with Robert Piquet, Lucien Lelong, and Elsa Schiaparelli. He also collaborated with Pierre Balmain and Christian Dior.
3. Invented “Deconstructed Chic”
Despite coming from an aristocratic background, Hubert de Givenchy’s beginnings in the fashion industry were anything from lavish and glamorous. He began with a little budget and made clothes out of shirting. Prototype patterns were frequently created using this material before being finished in more expensive fabrics like silk. Oddly enough, the designer’s unique notion to create pieces that could be mixed and matched to create a diverse wardrobe provided him a “edge” as well. It goes without saying that the debut of his first collection was a big success. Customers adored his cotton shirtings, and he soon had the money to pay back his investors and take full control of the couture firm.
4. Always wears a White Lab
He was addressed as Monsieur by his staff, and his atelier uniform was a white lab coat. The tailors and dressmakers all dressed like him in white lab coats as a tribute to the maestro of design for his final bow during his very last runway presentation.
5. The Hepburn Mix-Up
At one point in his career, he thought he earned the opportunity to design for the famed Katherine Hepburn. As it turns out, it was a case of the mistaken Hepburns because it was actually Audrey that he was designing for.
The mistake turned out to be a happy one as the designer and actress immediately hit it off. They then went on to create fashion magic and some of the most iconic looks in Hollywood.
6. There’s a Car Named After Him
From 1876 through 1983, Givenchy and the Ford Motor Company collaborated to create the Givenchy Edition of the Continental Mark. These luxury vehicles had one of a kind interiors and paint colors.
There were subtle Givenchy touches throughout the car. There is a small “G” at the end of the pinstriping and an embroidered “G” on the seats.
7. Breakfast at Tiffany’s
That famous little black dress that Audrey Hepburn wears in Breakfast at Tiffany’s is one of his designs. In the movie, Ms. Hepburn’s character Holly Golightly enters the namesake Fifth Avenue jeweler while sporting oversized sunglasses, four strands of glittering pearls, long evening gloves, and a black Givenchy dress that is stunningly inappropriate for the early morning.
The image of Ms. Hepburn as Holly came to embody a particular ideal, that of the wealthy bohemian holding wild parties while wearing breathtakingly beautiful gowns, for generations of young women who dreamed of a glamorous existence in the big city. The gown brought $923,187 at a charity auction held at Christie’s in London in 2006. In addition, Ms. Hepburn donned Givenchy creations off-screen as well as in the films “Funny Face,” “Love in the Afternoon,” “Paris When it Sizzles,” “How to Steal a Million,” “Charade,” and “Love Among Thieves.” For the duration of their partnership, Ms. Hepburn said it was Mr. Givenchy’s designs that gave her the confidence to play her parts, or to step onstage before thousands of people to promote a charity.
It could be said that we have Givenchy to thank for the LBD or little black dress mantra. He also is the designer responsible for the balloon coat and baby doll dress.
This is a lot of accomplishment for a designer that never intended to work in fashion. He had planned to become a lawyer. It wasn’t until he realized that law didn’t satisfy his desire for design that he switched careers.
8. Designer for Famous Figures
The US first lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Donna Marella Agnelli, Ingrid Bergman, Lauren Bacall, Grace Kelly, Princess Salimah Aga Khan, and Dolores Guinness are just a few of the renowned people for whom Hubert de Givenchy created apparel.
9. The Legacy of Givenchy
While Givenchy himself retired from designing in 1995, the Fashion label Givenchy continued on in skillful hands. Famous names such as Alexander McQueen, John Galliano, and Julien Macdonald have all held the honored position of lead designer.
10. Givenchy and Balenciaga
Givenchy collaborated with and interacted with a wide range of fashion figures, but Cristobal Balenciaga was one of his greatest influences and personal friends. Throughout the 1960s, the couple developed what was immediately referred to as a “bromance” between two major players in fashion. When he moved his atelier across the street from Balenciaga’s studio on the Avenue George V in 1959, the two began collaborating creatively, which resulted in iconic pieces like the chemise and the sack dress. It was during this time that Mr. Givenchy’s style changed from being straightforward and girlish to lavishly embroidered and romantic, with a strict reverence for construction.
Givenchy, a devout Protestant, believed that his abilities were a gift from God. Givenchy served as the Cristóbal Balenciaga Foundation’s founding chairman, and the organization’s museum honoring Mr. Balenciaga debuted in Getaria, Spain, in 2011.
In 1995, Hubert de Givenchy bid farewell to the fashion industry after selling his company. He was succeeded as chief fashion designer by John Galliano. Later, Givenchy concentrated on acquiring marble and bronze statues from the 17th and 18th centuries.
Near Paris in Romilly-sure-Aigre, Eure-et-Loir, he resided at the Chateau du Jonchet. From September 8 to 14, 2014, he planned a special exhibition at Christie’s in Paris in conjunction with the Biennale des Antiquaires.
Additionally, pieces by Jean-Baptiste-Claude Odiot were on display. On March 10, 2018, Hubert de Givenchy passed away peacefully at the age of 91. He is interred in Paris’s Passy Cemetery.
House of Givenchy
The House of Givenchy, a multi-national French fashion and perfume company founded in 1952, is well-known for its haute-couture apparel and designer accessories. Founded 71 years ago by Hubert de Givenchy, the luxury fashion label is now owned by luxury conglomerate LVMH. Givenchy is currently one of the largest luxury fashion houses in the world, having a presence in several nations and annual sales in the millions of dollars.
With its 70 years of distinguished heritage and outstanding competence, the House of Givenchy has grown into a legacy brand. The House Of Givenchy was created from the ground up by Hubert de Givenchy. He turned the House of Givenchy into one of the most prestigious and well-known fashion houses by fusing Audrey Hepburn’s aura with his sharp commercial sense. The Givenchy House has expanded into a number of industries, including accessories and cosmetics. The multimillion dollar company is currently led by CEO Renaud de Lesquen and creative director Matthew M. Williams.
Hubert de Givenchy, the Fashion Legend
The fashion powerhouse that is Givenchy is still one of the most influential designer labels in fashion today. It’s all thanks to one man’s vision of designing beautiful clothes for women to live in.
Hubert de Givenchy was ahead of his time in designing sophisticated pieces that women could wear and not the other way around. So wear your own piece by Givenchy and channel your inner Hepburn.
Scratch your mental itch with more interesting articles like this one when you check out the rest of our blog.