On March 10, the world lost Hubert de Givenchy, one of the greatest post-war Paris couturiers. He was 91.
“His are the only clothes in which I am myself. He is far more than a couturier, he is a creator of personality,” Givenchy’s muse Audrey Hepburn once said of the designer. Monsieur Givenchy’s work will always connote classic elegance with innovation and a touch of wit. His influence endures.
From the VFG label resource (article written by Lizzie Bramlett, thevintagetraveler):
Hubert de Givenchy started his fashion career in 1945 with Lucien Lelong. He also trained with Robert Piguet, Jacques Fath, and Schiaparelli before he opened his own house in 1952. He was only 25 years old.
Givenchy was a great admirer of Balenciaga, with whom he had a very close personal and professional relationship. They influenced each other’s work, as is evidenced in the development of the sack dress in the late 1950s.
Starting in 1954 with the movie Sabrina, he designed for Audrey Hepburn and he continued to design for her throughout her career. The story is that Hepburn went to Givenchy’s couture house, looking for some dresses to wear in Sabrina. Upon hearing that Miss Hepburn was in the house, Givenchy assumed that the visitor was Katherine Hepburn. He was so busy preparing for his upcoming show, that he told her he could not design the outfits, but that she was welcome to look through the racks of clothing left over from a previous show. The clothes Audrey Hepburn selected went on to win a Best Designer Oscar (though the award went to Edith Head, as the official designer of the movie) and Hepburn and Givenchy went on to become the best of friends.
Givenchy did licenses early on in his career. He designed 23 Orlon sweaters for Talbott in 1955 and they were introduced at his spring 1955 Paris collection. In 1968 Givenchy started a ready-to-wear line, Givenchy Nouvelle Boutique. In the late 1970s, his Givenchy Sport line was widely worn on the Charlie’s Angels TV program.
Givenchy retired in 1996. John Galliano became head designer at the House of Givenchy, but the next year he was replaced by Alexander McQueen. In 2001, Julien Macdonald became head designer. His last collection for Givenchy was Fall 2004. Riccardo Tisci was named the new designer in March, 2005, with his first collection presented for Spring 2006. In 2017, Clare Waight Keller became the house’s first woman head designer.
Members of the Vintage Fashion Guild have owned and offered for sale some of Givenchy’s pieces over the years. Here is a sampling of these garments. Some are still for sale, some have been sold, and some are in private or museum collections.
1 1950s couture dress, Poppy’s Vintage Clothing 2 Givenchy Nouvelle Boutique burn-out velvet dress available from Carla&Carla 3 70s black velour maxi coat, Poppy’s Vintage Clothing 4 Ikranieri 5 Early 70s studded dress, The Merchants of Vintage 6 90s choker and earrings set, Viva Vintage Clothing 7 70s Givenchy Sport ladies jacket, available from My Vintage Clothes Line 8 Poppy’s Vintage Clothing
9 80s Givenchy Sport sweater, available from Alley Cats Vintage 10 Viva Vintage Clothing 11 70s Givenchy Sport, denisebrain 12 80s necklace, My Vintage Clothes Line 13 70s Givenchy Sport, denisebrain 14 70s scarf, My Vintage Clothes Line 15 Willynillyart 16 Snakeskin belt, The Merchants of Vintage 17 70s mens jacket, The Merchants of Vintage
18 Early 90s jacket, Viva Vintage Clothing 19 Early 70s scarf, denisebrain 20 Claire Schaeffer 21 60s couture silk chiffon dress, Past Perfect Vintage 22 Claire Schaeffer
23 70s Givenchy Gentleman-label Sweater, available from Poppy’s Vintage Clothing 24 60s scarf, available from Metro Retro Vintage 25 70s logo blouse (with matching kerchief), Poppy’s Vintage Clothing 26 70s floral scarf, My Vintage Clothes Line
27 60s Wool Jacket with fur collar, Past Perfect Vintage 28 Green mohair bouclé suit, 1963, Jonathan Walford/Fashion History Museum 29 80s Russian sable coat, Furwise30,31,32 Images courtesy of Jonathan Walford/Fashion History Museum 33 80s Amarige perfume pocket square, available from Another Time Vintage Apparel
Top of page: Image courtesy of Jonathan Walford/Fashion History Museum
Compiled by Maggie Wilds/denisebrain