‘All a woman needs to be chic is a raincoat, two suits, a pair of trousers and a cashmere sweater’. Spoken like a true lover of fashion, French aristocratic fashion designer, Hubert De Givenchy cared about women, about how clothes made them feel and about fashion. In a statement from Givenchy’s Instagram, they announced news regarding the designer – ‘The House of Givenchy is sad to report the passing of its founder Hubert de Givenchy, a major personality of the world of French Haute Couture and a gentleman who symbolized Parisian chic and elegance for more than half a century. His enduring influence and his approach to style reverberates to this day. He will be greatly missed’. Although Givenchy was bought out by the fashion luxury management company, LVMH in 1989, Hubert De Givenchy made the brand what it is today. The sad news of Givenchy’s death recently, once again hit the industry and lovers of Givenchy hard. The loss of, yet again, another icon.
We are all aware of the name, the brand, Givenchy, but the man behind the brand’s work, more than anything, helped shape the industry today. Givenchy’s most commercial success revolved around his emphasis on the ‘little black dress’. This iconic silhouette and style were worn by the iconic actor, Audrey Hepburn, in a film nowadays looked back on as a cinematic classic – Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961). The connotations of this ‘little black dress’ involve images of class, elegance and an understated attitude which Hepburn’s character Holly Golightly embodies throughout the film. In an interview with The New York Times, Givenchy sheds light on dressing his muse, Hepburn. He states, ‘When the door of my studio opened, there stood a young woman, very slim, very tall, with doe eyes and short hair and wearing a pair of narrow pants, a little T-shirt, slippers and a gondolier’s hat with a red ribbon that read “Venezia.” I told her “Mademoiselle, I would love to help you, but I have very few sewers, I am in the middle of doing a collection, I can’t make you clothes.” So she said, “Show me what you have already made for the collection.” She tried on the dresses — “It’s exactly what I need!” — and they fit her, too. We just changed the top of the evening dress when she dances with William Holden in the tennis court from black jersey to a white organza bustier since it was for a summer ball’.
Speaking of Givenchy’s character, Hepburn stated, ‘Givenchy’s clothes are the only ones in which I feel myself. He is more than a designer, he is a creator of personality’. Like many male designers in fashion, the passion to make women feel comfortable most definitely comes across in the clothing, but more so, through the kind words of praise which is said of Givenchy as a person. Similar to the likes of iconic fashion street photographer, Bill Cunningham, Givenchy remains to be described to highlights in his career, but also who he was.
Creating fashion moments for the ages, Givenchy’s elegant enchantment will always be remembered.