Hubert de Givenchy – A master of elegance


Hubert de Givenchy was one of the most important fashion designers of the 20th century. He founded his own fashion house in Paris in 1952, creating elegant and timeless clothes for women that stood out from the tight and uncomfortable silhouettes of the post-war period. His style was characterized by clean lines, simple colors and refined details. He collaborated with the most famous fabric manufacturers, tailors and jewelers to bring his vision to life.

Hubert de Givenchy was born in Beauvais on February 20, 1927. His family was aristocratic and art-loving. His grandfather was the director of the famous Gobelin Manufactory, and his mother was a painter. Even as a child, he showed an interest in fashion and designed clothes for his dolls. He studied art at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris and later law to fulfill his family’s wishes. But he soon gave up his studies and devoted himself entirely to his passion.

He began his career as an assistant to several renowned fashion designers such as Jacques Fath, Robert Piguet, Lucien Lelong and Elsa Schiaparelli. He learned from them the art of tailoring, the importance of quality and the diversity of inspirations. He developed his own taste and sense of elegance and modernity.

In 1952, he opened his own fashion house on Avenue George V in Paris. He was only 25 years old at the time and one of the youngest couturiers in the city. His first collection was a great success and immediately brought him international recognition. He presented dresses made of white cotton fabrics with embroidery reminiscent of the traditional costume of his home region of Picardy. He called them “Les Séparables” because they consisted of individual pieces that could be combined with each other. He thus created a new look that was practical, comfortable and elegant at the same time.

He soon became the favorite designer of many famous women such as Jacqueline Kennedy, Grace Kelly, Marlene Dietrich, Greta Garbo and especially Audrey Hepburn. He met her in 1953 during the filming of the movie “Sabrina” and designed for her the legendary black cocktail dress that she wore in one scene. They became close friends and worked together on many other films, such as “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” “Charade” and “How to Steal a Million.” He created a distinctive style for her, which consisted of narrow pants, flat shoes, simple sweaters, pearl necklaces and big sunglasses.

Hubert de Givenchy also revolutionized the perfume industry by being the first couturier to launch a fragrance for men in 1959: “Monsieur de Givenchy”. He did so following the advice of his friend and mentor Cristóbal Balenciaga, with whom he shared a deep admiration and friendship. He also created several successful fragrances for women such as “L’Interdit”, “Le De” or “Ysatis”.

He expanded his fashion empire with several lines such as “Givenchy Nouvelle Boutique” for young women, “Givenchy Gentleman” for menswear or “Givenchy Sport” for casual wear.

He sold his fashion house to the luxury group LVMH in 1988, but remained as artistic director until 1995. He then retired from the fashion business and devoted himself to his other interests such as art, horticulture and philanthropy. He died on March 10, 2018, in Neuilly-sur-Seine, France, at the age of 91.

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