Remembering Hubert De Givenchy

Editorial • 15/03/18

The late Hubert De Givenchy was elegance personified, standing at six foot six and impeccably tailored at all times he stated in an address to the Oxford Union, “You must, if it’s possible, be born with a kind of elegance. It’s part of you, of yourself. "

Elegance is not anonymous. It is both shown and felt. Elegance is music not noise. Givenchy or Le Grand Hubert as the French so fondly described him, was one of the few designers of a bygone era that one could argue he was the man behind the little black dress. He was famed for creating the iconic little black dress worn by Audrey Hepburn in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s. A cinema masterpiece moment supported by the unsung hero Givenchy.

The dress the image of the infamous window shopping scene; black dress, pearls, oversized sunglasses, danish and coffee in hand became a symbol to the glamorous life found in the large major cities. It represented a dream of an idyllic yet tangible reality. As within the film, Hepburn, who pleads to be penniless hosts major parties clad in Givenchy gowns. Givenchy proclaimed that the irony of creating the black dress was that its simplicity was the hardest part to achieve. The iconic black dress, In 2006, was sold at Christie’s in London for $923,187.

Other A-list style icons included Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, The Duchess of Windsor, Greta Garbo and Grace Kelly. Kennedy - Onassis was hugely powerful as her time as first lady was whilst she was young, thus by representing a youthful new America, her outings in Givenchy again made the house appear at the forefront. One notable request was a turnaround on a couture funeral outfit for the Duchess within 2 days.

His mastery of poise meant he could handle both day and eveningwear in his stride. His clothes became covetable, collectable and a fantasy for many. His combination of A list clientele of the epoch aforementioned set the trend for inquiries as to what celebrities were wearing, giving rise to the power and awareness of the house. Much can be seen in the near present day akin to Tisci and the Kardashians, in a very different 2016/17 world.

Couturier and client relationship of the post-war period is sadly rare in the world today, but brand Givenchy has continued to thrive with a host of equally talented designer, first John Galliano (as a designer), then Alexander McQueen, Julien Macdonald, Riccardo Tisci, and currently Clare Waight Keller. Whilst living through all these times. Givenchy sees a different world to his era and at times felt a sharp pain of regret for selling to LVMH as his name still rests above the door, thus still connected to the brand yet in a very modern world.

What he started was the realisation that fantasy can become a reality. Designing collections with specific women in mind and enduring couturier relationships with clients is something only he can hold onto for evermore.


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