Hubert de Givenchy, 1927 – 2018

In 1952, at the age of 25, Count Hubert James Marcel Taffin de Givenchy founded his house of fashion. Born in Beauvais, France, Givenchy studied law before entering the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris.

The year after he opened his atelier, he met his longtime muse, Audrey Hepburn. The little black dresses he designed for her to wear in Breakfast at Tiffany’s became style icons of the era. “Givenchy’s creations always gave me a sense of security and confidence,” Hepburn once said. The two remained friends until her death in 1993.

Audrey Hepburn at a Givenchy fitting, 1959

His clothes are recognizable by their elegant simplicity — he is credited with introducing the chemise or sack dress, as well as the princess silhouette that molded over the bosom and swung outwards to the hemline.

In 1969, Givenchy began designing a line of menswear, and a year later branched out further into furnishing fabrics. In 1988 he sold his label to the French luxury goods group LVMH (Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy) for a reported $45 million, although he remained head of creative design until he retired in 1995.

His successors included John Galliano, Alexander McQueen, Julien MacDonald. Riccardo Tisci, and Claire Keller, who took over as the label’s first female artistic director in 2017. Givenchy died March 10, 2018 at the age of 91. He is survived by his partner, Philippe Venet.

About Jonathan

Jonathan Walford is a fashion historian and co-founder of the Fashion History Museum in Cambridge, Ontario. The FHM maintains a collection of nearly 12,000 artifacts dating from the mid 17th century to the present. Jonathan has authored various books and museum catalogues, including The Seductive Shoe, Shoes A-Z, Forties Fashion, 1950s American Fashion, and Sixties Fashion.
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2 Responses to Hubert de Givenchy, 1927 – 2018

  1. Jandrew says:

    Count Hubert de Givenchy was the last of the post war couturiers , and with his passing our world has changed . A notable gentleman and style icon Givenchy was the great master of elegance and sophistication. I was inspired and educated by his work . I recently wrote a log post on the legacy of the master . Please check it out!
    Dress The Part

    • Jonathan says:

      I agree he was the end of an era… There are still Lagerfeld, Valentino, and Cardin, but they adapted to the ready-to-wear boutique world more than Givenchy.

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