Born Count Hubert James Marcel Taffin de Givenchy, the famed couturier who embodied the refinement of France’s aristocracy, has died aged 91.
Initially groomed to be a lawyer, Givenchy ultimately pursued fashion and looked to Elsa Schiaparelli, Cristóbal Balenciaga and Madame Grès as mentors. At the age of 24, the young designer inaugurated his own brand. His debut show was met with acclaim and by the mid-1950s, had cemented his place in the haute couture world.
When production started on the 1954 film Sabrina, starring Audrey Hepburn and Humphrey Boghart, Givenchy was brought in to design some of Sabrina’s dresses, including the now-famous embroidered white and gold ballgown. Although the film’s official costume designer Edith Head eventually won the Academy Award for Best Costume Design, history now credits him for this iconic creation that kickstarted the long-time relationship between Hepburn and fashion.
Indeed, the English actress and French designer would forever remain friends and collaborators; Hepburn wore Givenchy to the 1954 Academy Awards and again in films such as Funny Face (1957), Love in the Afternoon (1957) and of course, Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961).
Hubert de Givenchy was one of the first traditional couturiers to evolve his style to accommodate the Sixties silhouette; on her first visit to France alongside her husband, Jackie Kennedy is rumoured to have worn over ten of his creations despite official etiquette requiring she wear American designers. In the 1970s, he expanded his business ventures into home and car furnishings and in 1988, sold his brand to LVMH to prepare his retirement.
From then onwards, the Givenchy label has been helmed by the likes of John Galliano, Alexander McQueen, Julien Macdonald, Riccardo Tisci and as of 2017, Claire Waight Keller. Since its debut in 1952, Givenchy has become a name synonymous with luxury, elegance and timelessness- a testament to the designer’s adaptable and resilient aesthetic through the decades. Hubert de Givenchy was one of the last original 20th Century couturiers and although he will be mourned, his work remains celebrated and his legacy lives on through a cutting-edge but refined interpretation of his brand.
Hubert de Givenchy (20 February 1927 – 10 March 2018)