The Genius of Givenchy
I was saddened to learn of the recent passing of fashion giant Hubert de Givenchy. He was the last survivor of the post-WWII French couturier geniuses, who transformed fashion from a commodity to an art form, so his absence marks the end of an era.
When I was researching my post last month on vintage fashions I came across so many wonderful portraits of his clothes, but like most American women, I was taken by his 40-year relationship with his ultimate muse, Audrey Hepburn. He described their close friendship as like a marriage, but with no disagreements, just always content to be in one another’s company.
From the moment we saw her in her little black dress, pearls, and gloves in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, the world fell in love with Ms. Hepburn, and also with the style of Hubert de Givenchy. After another designer claimed credit for Ms. Hepburn’s gowns in different movie, Ms. Hepburn issued a simple statement to the press “Each time I’m in a film, Givenchy dresses me." Their loyalty to one another was deep, he also largely dressed her in life as well, from 1953 to 1995 when Ms. Hepburn passed away from cancer.
Hubert de Givenchy was born of French royalty, a count, and by all contemporary assessments was the gentlemen’s gentleman. He also stood 6’ 6” tall, and was dashingly handsome, so he wore his own clothes as elegantly as any of his models.
As would be expected of a French royal and emperor of haute couture, Givenchy lived as elegantly as his clothing creations. The green salon of his Paris hotel particulier was nearly as famous as his gowns.
And his estate outside Paris, Manoir du Jonchet where he spent his later years, is off-the-charts chic.
Let's take a look at a few more of his amazing couture creations. Au Revoir, Monsieur Givenchy!