Givenchy: The Man with an Unmatchable Style

Remembering the life and works of the most celebrated Fashion Designer of all times

The Handsome and  burly six feet and six inches tall French designer with a shock of sand colored hair Hubert de Givenchy was the personification of a true French aristocrat.  He was eminent for his couture and ready to wear designs. He was symbolic of an age of gentlemanly designers who set –up their couture houses in postwar Paris, fostering a personal relationship with customers. He maintained a classic elegance in fashion for more than four decades. Ms. Hepburn who was a rising star became a paramount reason for Givenchy’s success as she wanted him to design all her film outfits.

Hubert James Marcel Taffin De Givenchy was born on 21 February 1927 in Beauvais, France. His father who was the marquis of Givenchy and had been ennobled in the 18th century died when Hubert was just two years old. He and his brother were raised by their mother and maternal grandparents.  Givenchy became acquainted to fine craftsmanship of textile from a young age. His maternal family was associated with the great tapestry artists of Beauvais. According to Givenchy the most inspiring moment in his career as a designer was at the age of 10 when he attended a fair arranged by couturier Jeanne Lanvin along with his family.  At age 17 he joined the Ecole des Beaux-Arts the following year he started a studentship with Jacques Fath. In a short span of time he began working at Swiss designers Robert Piguet and Lucien Lelong. Givenchy worked under Ms. Schiaparelli from 1947 till 1952 with the desire of one day starting his own couturier house. In 1953 Mr. Givenchy was introduced to the American readers in Life Magazine as an emerging young designer.  Besides creating one of the most noticeable labels in France he enjoyed financial independence for the most part during his unprecedented career. Mr. Givenchy had been vital in creating the best moments of cinematic fashion during the 20th century with Ms. Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Moreover Hepburn wore Givenchy’s designs in films such as, “Love in the Afternoon”, Funny Face,” How to Steal a Million”, Charade,” Love among Thieves and “Paris when it sizzles”. In 1959 his collaborated with Balenciaga and produced some indelible designs for instance, the sack dress and Chemise. Being chosen by the International Best Dressed Hall of Fame in 1970 was no doubt a landmark in Givenchy’s career.

 He established the Cristobal Balenciaga Foundation besides setting up a museum in Spain to commemorate the memory of Mr. Balenciaga in 2011. After announcing his retirement from the fashion industry in 1995 he became associated with the French Branch of the World Monuments Fund for many years. During his long association with the Worlds Monuments Fund he contributed to the field of arts as an antiques expert for Christie’s, the Chateau de Versailles Louvre museum. He will always be remembered for his timeless and tasteful clothes, dramatic shawls and capes, evening dresses in bright array of colors with chic and ladylike designs. His most famous clients included Jacqueline Onassis, Duchess of Windsor and Ms. Hepburn. In 1983 he received the Chevalier de la Legion d’ Honneur. Besides being a recipient of many awards he also received a life time achievement award in 1995 by the Council of Fashion Designers of America.

  Givenchy breathed his last on 10th March 2018 at his home outside Paris.  His profound advice to aspiring designers at the Oxford Student in 2010 was “You must, if it’s possible, be born with a kind of elegance. It’s part of you, of yourself.” He shall always be remembered as a luminary in the world of fashion and a true gem of the international society.


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