We wouldn’t be able to imagine the world of high fashion without the figure of Hubert de Givenchy. What could have the 50s and the 60s been without his beautiful mind and immense talent? He stands as a great story, a handbook in magnificence, precision, aesthetics and proper attitude to life itself.
Hubert was born on 24thFebruary 1927 as the youngest member of an aristocratic family in Beauvais, France. As the years pass, for every success he achieves at school his grandmother opens up for him the doors of her studio, filled with beautiful materials and inspiring the future designer. At the age of 17 life takes him to Paris. His adventure startsfrom the ÉcoleNationale des Beaux-Arts and later moves to ateliers of huge names like JacquesFath and Elsa Schiaparelli. Merely 24 years old, Hubert moves on to lay the foundations of his own fashion house. Two years later he adds a luxury ready-to-wear line to his main haute couture collection. He is believed to be the first couturier who takes this step and leads the way for everyone else in the guild. His style and designs immediately find their loyal public and his career never ceases to grow.
Significant for his development as a creator was his meeting with Cristóbal Balenciaga – his absolute idol and admired mentor. Monsieur de Givenchy himself states, “Balenciaga was my religion. There’s Balenciaga, and there is the Good Lord.” At the end of the 50s the two of them collaborate and together they set the trend of the so-called Sack silhouette – a free-shaped design without any waistline defined.
Another decisive encounter for Hubert is the one with Audrey Hepburn. In 1953 the actress still hasn’t made her grand debut in film and, unknown, she arrives at the designer’s studio in sandals, wearing tight trousers, a simple T-shirt and a straw hat, in order to try on her outfits for the film Sabrina. This is how the story of a 40-year-old friendship begins. Monsieur de Givenchy transforms Audreynot only for some of her most remarkable screen characters like her roles in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Funny Face, Charade and How to Steal a Million, but also in real life. Being his muse, she owes the designer her status of an everlasting fashion icon. She is wearing one of his creations the day she receives an Oscar for her role in Roman Holiday.
And she is far from being the only celebrity beauty who appreciates Givenchy’s work. Jacqueline Kennedy and Grace Kelly are just another two examples of the popular admirers of the French fashion house. But it’s exceptionally Audrey that has such a special place in the heart of the great maestro.
In 1988, he sells his fashion empire to the luxury goods conglomerate Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessey, and in 1995 he finally steps down from the position of creative director. And he lets his oeuvre be continued by worthy talents from the rank of Alexander McQueen, John Galliano, Julien Macdonald and Riccardo Tisci.
Just several days ago, on 10th March, the soul of Hubert de Givenchy left this world and flew away to unknown horizons. What he has bequeathed to the fashion world is invaluable. The perfect gentleman, as many have described him, provokes millions of women around the world to dream of laying their hands on of his perfect creations. We believe that the French fashion house Givenchy will continue to exist for many years to come, relying on the principles, aesthetics and example that Monsieur de Givenchy has left behind.
Text: Alexandra Tosheva
Photos: Pinterest, Jacques Scandelari