The late Hubert de Givenchy sadly passed in March, aged 91. Spotlight looks back at the renowned designer’s life; celebrating his achievements and legacy left behind in the fashion industry. With clientele including Audrey Hepburn, Jackie Kennedy and Grace Kelly; Givenchy’s understated style will long be remembered.
The great Count Hubert James Marcel Taffin de Givenchy, was a French designer whom founded the house of Givenchy in 1952. The Paris couturier sold his couture house in 1989, to the multinational luxury goods conglomerate, LVMH.
During his designing years, Givenchy dressed several of the most glamorous and sought after women, including Grace Kelly and Jackie Kennedy. However, his most beloved client, remained Audrey Hepburn. Givenchy famously won an Oscar for his designs for Hepburn; with the iconic little black dress in Breakfast at Tiffany’s being considered one of the most indelible cinematic moments of the 20th century. The iconic scene featured Hepburn, as Holly Golightly, approaching the Fifth Avenue jeweller wearing oversized dark sunglasses, dripping in pearls, wearing long black evening gloves and the black Givenchy dress. Givenchy is reported to have said of the design, “the little black dress is the hardest thing to realise, because you must keep it simple.”
Not only was Audrey Hepburn a client of Givenchy’s but they formed a close bond and he went on to design several other costumes for her films: Funny Face, Love in the Afternoon, Paris When It Sizzles, How to Steal a Million, Charade and Love Among Thieves. Following Audrey’s passing in 1993 due to colon cancer, the legendary couturier came out of retirement to dedicate his sketch book to the late actress. The sketchbook entitled, To Audrey with Love, encompassed over 300 sketches of designs for clothes he created for Hepburn on and off screen; as well as other luminaries on his client list including, Jackie Kennedy, Grace Kelly and the Duchess of Windsor.
The 300 drawings in both colour and monotone, were recreations of the original sketches of models for his collections. The illustrations echoed Givenchy’s understated yet elegant style, which fashion experts state, is responsible for keeping the standards of Parisian haute couture alive. In an interview with the Telegraph discussing his sketchbook, Givenchy informed a reporter of his inspiration behind dedicating the book to Hepburn, “After I done a few sketches, I am thinking why don’t I dedicate all these drawings to Audrey? Everyone loves her. She is not only a legend but an extraordinary human being.”
Following his sad passing, several authoritative figures paid tribute to the renowned designer. Emmanuel Macron, the current French President, hailed the designer as “a master of elegance, creation and inventiveness”, adding “It is through such artists that France shines in the world and there is no doubt that the legacy of Hubert de Givenchy will endure.” Bernard Arnault, chairman and chief executive of LVMH also paid tribute to Givenchy, “I am deeply saddened by the death of Hubert de Givenchy. He was among those designers who placed Paris firmly at the heart of the fashion world post 1950, while creating a unique personality for his own fashion label.”
Hubert de Givenchy, a classist at heart, will be remembered for his understated style which represented a golden age of elegance, as well as his own immensely elegant and tailored appearance. The celebrated couturier was named International Best Dressed List Hall of Fame in 1970, no doubt affirming his tailored, chic, style and ensuring his legacy remain a staple within the fashion industry.