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Fashion Lesson Friday: Hubert Givenchy

The Early Days

Hubert James Marcel Taffin de Givenchy was born on February 21, 1927, in the city of Beauvais in northern France. He started as an apprentice in fashion when he was only 16 years old and quickly after, he decided it was best to move to fashion switch his focus from law to a focus in fashion.  He was so young when he released his first collection, however he was tall at 6’5”, handsome and was known to wear a white lab coat when designing and alas: a star was born.

A Woman’s Man

Givenchy’s first collection, featuring flawlessly detailed separates, high-style coats, and elegant ball gowns, gained immediate international recognition.One of his claims to fame was the “Bettina Blouse,” named after model Bettina Graziani, which assisted in his establishment of Parisian chic.  Part of the popularity of his house was that he chose practicality for women, rather than restricting them. Washington Post in 1995: “Givenchy has long been a classicist, one of the last of the old school of haute couture, where gorgeous clothes were made for a woman to live in, not decorate her. His clothes moved with a woman’s body, rather than restricted it.”

Famous Frenemies

He soon became friends with Cristóbal Balenciaga and created a great mentor/mentee relationship. The two teamed up to introduce a new silhouette called the “sack," a loose form without any waistline. The modern interpretation of this look is the “shift dress” which was made very popular in the late 50s and early 60s.  He was also known to have many “rival” designer friends, such as Yves Saint Laurent., Pierre Balmain and Christian Dior.

A Man’s Muse

In addition to Bettina Graziani, he kept close relationships with so many notable style icons of the time, such as Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Grace Kelly and Audrey Hepburn. You may recognize his works in the Little Black Dress Audrey Hepburn wore in the most famous scene of her film Breakfast at Tiffany’s.  He also designed her clothing in Sabrina, and the shape of that décolletage from the film is still known as ‘The Sabrina Neckline’ today.
Without a “face” for his first fragrance, L’Interdit, Givenchy asked his best lady friend Audrey to pose with the perfume. This decision was controversial at the time, considering it was the very first time that a movie star had appeared in a perfume advertisement. The Givenchy Beauty line has been very successful over the years attributing the importance of fragrance by Givenchy, it being coined by him as “the woman’s final touch.”

Riding in Style

Something unique to this designer is that he was not restricted by garments. In the 70s, Givenchy collaborated with Ford Motor Company to design specific interior and exterior color schemes for a series of luxury vehicles. These limited Givenchy Edition of the Contential Mark ran from 1976 to 1983 and are now considered collectors items.

Legacy Lives On

Although retired in 1995 and passed away in 2018, Givenchy’s legacy lives on. A featured ATSW Fashion Designer, Alexander McQueen once worked in the House of Givenchy, showing that the brand has made a lasting impact for years to come.
As always, thank you so much for reading! Please check out our Instagram page to stay updated on blog posts and news within our shop.
This article was written by Alexandria Nevarez on October 23, 2020.

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