Hubert de Givenchy’s Career, From Audrey Hepburn to Jackie Kennedy: Fashion Icon Dies at 91 | BLOUIN ARTINFO
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Hubert de Givenchy’s Career, From Audrey Hepburn to Jackie Kennedy: Fashion Icon Dies at 91

Hubert de Givenchy’s Career, From Audrey Hepburn to Jackie Kennedy: Fashion Icon Dies at 91
Audrey Hepburn and Hubert de Givenchy
(Paramount Pictures/ Wikimedia; VICTOR SKREBNESKI VIA GIVENCHY)

Tributes continue to come in to Hubert de Givenchy, the French couturier whose elegance defined the 1950s and 1960s and the style of Jackie Kennedy, Audrey Hepburn and more. Givenchy died at the age of age 91 in his sleep on Saturday; his death was announced by his namesake fashion house. During his lifetime, he had received the Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur in 1983, and a lifetime achievement award from the Council of Fashion Designers of America in 1995.

Givenchy was born in 1927 to a religious aristocratic family. He learned the couture “métier” from working for Jacques Fath, Robert Piguet, Lucien Lelong, and Elsa Schiaparelli, before founding his own namesake label. Givenchy would later establish his Parisian atelier across the street from Cristóbal Balenciaga, who was his dear friend and his longtime role model. He was also influenced by Madame Grès and Christian Dior, and inspired by artists. He notably created taffeta evening coats and robes du soir in homage to Joan Miró during the 1970s.

His first collection was presented in February 1952; it featured modern separates, providing more affordable and versatile options than the haute couture looks that were standard in the French fashion world in the middle of the 20th century. Nonetheless, Givenchy also made opulent and heavily embellished garments (with pearls, feathers, and ribbons), impeccable cocktail ensembles, and elegant accessories, notably sumptuous hats. He was known for dressing a wealthy, stylish clientele: Jacqueline Kennedy was a longtime client, as was Grace Kelly and the Duchess of Windsor.

The darling of the Givenchy fashion narrative, however, was Audrey Hepburn. They met when a mutual friend told the designer that Miss Hepburn was keen to be introduced, and Givenchy assumed the lady in question was Katherine Hepburn. Their friendship blossomed despite the misunderstanding, and Givenchy ended up making costumes for Audrey Hepburn’s then-upcoming film, ”Sabrina” (1954)—as well as “Funny Face” (1957), “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” (1961), “Charade” (1963), and “How To Steal a Million” (1966). While Givenchy and Hepburn created many iconic sartorial moments on film, perhaps none rivaled the glamorous wardrobe of Holly Golightly, the onscreen heroine of “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” who walked down Fifth Avenue wearing dark sunglasses, pearls, evening gloves, and a black Givenchy column dress. (In 2006, the dress was sold at a charity auction at Christie’s in London for six figures).

Givenchy was also associated with various successful perfumes: from the fruity and feminine L’Interdit (created in 1957 for Hepburn) to the heavily floral Amariage (created in 1991).

Givenchy sold his fashion house to the LVMH Group in 1988 and retired after his collection in July 1995. John Galliano succeeded him; less than two years later, he in turn was succeeded by Alexander McQueen, then Julien Macdonald. Riccardo Tisci held the reigns from 2005 until 2017, much to the original designer’s displeasure. Currently, Clare Waight Keller is the label’s Artistic Director.

In March 2016, the fashion house created an archival department to conserve and promote all garments and accessories dating from the original designer’s tenure, from 1952 to 1995. Just last year, the Museum of Lace and Fashion in Calais in northern France celebrated Givenchy’s work and presented 80 beautiful looks and accessories that spanned his career.  

 

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