March 10, 2018: At age 91, a legend has passed on.
Givenchy, the man, was born in 1927 and founded Givenchy, the house, in 1952. His upbringing was that of a French aristocrat, which certainly had an impact on the way he carried himself and his classicist fashions. The man knew elegance like no other, and sought to enhance the world of luxury with his minimalistic approach – to follow the “line.” To Givenchy, this meant keeping the integrity of the silhouette in mind, and not allowing the figure to be worn by the clothing, but rather vise versa.
Hubert De Givenchy’s career began at the young age of 17, with an apprenticeship at Jacques Fath. However, the path was not paved easily for Givenchy, as he dealt with disheartening rejections before finally getting his foot in the door. It was because of his hard work and persistence that wonderful opportunities began to open up at famous French couture houses, afterward.
Cristóbal Balenciaga became his friend and mentor throughout the rise of Givenchy, which eventually led the two to partake in a collaborative movement for looser forms in apparel, or the “sack” of the mid 1950’s. Balenciaga and Givenchy became complimentary household names, and loyal customers would wear both designer’s pieces together, as they flattered each other.
With a keen eye for design and long time friendship with Audrey Hepburn, Hubert De Givenchy was a force to be reckoned with. The pair met accidentally on Givenchy’s behalf, as he had been expecting to dress another starlet of the moment, Katharine Hepburn. He immediately gravitated toward the way Audrey graciously carried her femininity, and the rest was history.
Audrey Hepburn continued to choose his designs for her film projects, including the famous LBD in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. The French designer’s clothing and her wonderful talent soon became a superpower in their respective industries. Their loyalty to one another created a beautiful, life-long friendship.
After Hubert De Givenchy sold his fashion house to the LVMH group for $45 million in 1988, he continued to lead the design team until 1995, where he presented his final collection. The fashion house continued to thrive on with wildly innovative successors, John Galliano, Alexander McQueen, Julien MacDonald, Riccardo Tisci and a recent addition to the list as of 2017, Claire Waight Keller, artistic director of Haute Couture and both men’s and women’s RTW.
With a career older than 40 years, Givenchy left a lasting mark on the brand forevermore. You could say those taking the reins from the icon have continued to celebrate his version of Givenchy with only a new set of lenses. Some of his work has been placed on display at Blush Magazine’s home, the Fashion Institute of Technology, for New York to admire. FIT will forever remember the genius behind Givenchy.