On the 12th of March 2018, Givenchy announced the passing of its founder, Hubert de Givenchy. He was 91 years old and embodied the image of a “fashion icon” with his extensive career that solidified him as one of the most deserving of the title.
And in a time when it feels like we’re losing fashion’s major names one by one (the loss of Azzedine Alaïa last year also shook the fashion world), Let’s take a look at the Givenchy Legacy till today.
Hubert De Givenchy studied at L’Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris and began working as a designer for Pierre Balmain and Christian Dior in 1945 he then designed for Elsa Schiaparelli from 1947 till 1951.
It’s isn’t until 1952 that he decided to open his own namesake label at the “Plaine Monceau” in Paris and made a name for himself with innovative designs based on separates such as classic skirts and blouses that attracted an aristocratic clientele.
Hubert de Givenchy was a tall, refined and handsome gentleman and armed with his talent and passion he was able to open the doors of Hollywood by genuinely befriending Audrey Hepburn who wore his “Little Black Dress” in the famous scene of Breakfast at Tiffany’s. She also wore his “white floral dress” to the 1954 Academy Award which is now considered as an iconic Oscar look. As their friendship grew, she became the face of his first perfume line thus commencing the practice of celebrities as brand ambassadors for luxury brands except that the Hepburn-Givenchy collaboration was based on true friendship and a non-monetary deal.
When it came to celebrities, Givenchy dressed the most powerful women, from Greta Garbo to Grace Kelly, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, the Duchess of Windsor, the Princess Salimah Agha Khan, and with his prêt-à-porter collection in 1954 his namesake was literally everywhere.
It’s during that golden period of the 50’s where his friendship and admiration to Cristóbal Balenciaga started and evolved. The two designer worked together and showcased next to each other and admired each other and created the Balloon coat lines and the Baby Doll dresses that we still see till today within both fashion houses and everywhere else in the industry.
Givenchy was one of the very few designers that were able to work independently for 34 years. He sold his company to LVMH in 1988 but remained as the creative head until 1995. The brand then underwent many changes with the creatives at the helm and they all ignored the founder’s legacy leaving the house of Givenchy with no recognizable aesthetic up until Givenchy hired Riccardo Tisci, who brought back the brand to the limelight and made it a” must -have” label thanks his nod to Hubert’s archives and to the fact that he stayed at Givenchy for 12 years; a long enough period to actually make a sustainable impact. The creative now falls under Clare Waight- Keller who was also inspired by Hubert’s sketches and laid her inspiration on graphic print and bold shoulders.
No matter what the next vision for the brand will be, as long as the creative head follows Hubert de Givenchy’s simple rule: “The dress must follow the body of a woman, not the body following the shape of the dress.” It will always be a “must-have”.
Text by GD