Imagine a world without the shirt dress; the classic choice for hiding that ‘I had a big lunch’ belly. Imagine a summer without breezy, floaty skirts. Imagine Audrey without her little black dress, Wallis without her jaw dropping gowns, and Grace without her super slinky green number. It’s a world that doesn’t bear thinking about! Whether you’re a fashionista or are more comfortable chilling out in your jammies, one thing’s for certain: the world would be a very different place if Hubert de Givenchy had never existed.
The creator of women’s fashion as we know it, French designer Hubert de Givenchy passed away peacefully at his home near Paris on 10th March 2018. Aged 91, Givenchy had spent almost his entire life dreaming of textiles, fondling fabrics, and designing some of the most iconic and sexiest items of women’s clothing (come on, who among us doesn’t have a rather revealing baby doll stashed away for special occasions?). The Givenchy brand was launched in 1952, bringing true meaning to ‘haute couture’.
Born in Beauvais, France, Givenchy - Count Hubert James Marcel Taffin de Givenchy to give him his full name and title (now that’s a mouthful!) - began dabbling in fabric from a young age, playing around with his grandmother’s textiles, probably in much the same way we all ended up rifling through Grandma’s sewing kit as kids, thinking there were biscuits inside the tin. But these childhood experiences for Givenchy were more than just a bit of fun; they helped to carve out an incredible life and career.
Since Givenchy made his name, women’s clothes have never been the same. Focusing on innovation, creativity, and boldness - and possibly with a little bit of eccentricity thrown in for good measure - Givenchy was the chalk to Christian Dior’s cheese. His designs filled a gap in French fashion that Dior’s conservative offerings couldn’t even come close to. While Dior’s progressive audience were complaining that his designs didn’t show off enough skin, Givenchy was hitting headlines for THAT famous Breakfast at Tiffany’s dress.
A true gentleman
Tributes have been pouring in for Givenchy, from his fans, his celebrity icons, and from other renowned designers. However, perhaps the most fitting tribute to this rather handsome man (he was reported to be 6 foot 5 inches tall, and had a definite Paul McCartney vibe to him) comes from the Givenchy brand itself. After Givenchy left the company in 1995 (to focus on marble sculpting no less), the brand has brought some of the leading names in fashion on board in an attempt to fill the void left by the designer.
John Galliano, Alexander McQueen, Julien MacDonald, and Riccardo Tisci have all been instrumental in developing Givenchy’s unique vision, taking risks just as Givenchy did himself, throughout his years as the company’s founder. Back in 2010, for example, transgender model Lea T. totally rocked the androgynous look for the Autumn/Winter campaign. Most recently, the reigns have been handed over to Clare Waight Keller, who described Givenchy as the ‘definition of a true gentleman’, and one of the ‘last icons’ of his era.
Taking the view that Givenchy is synonymous with powerful women, Keller is set to continue making the Givenchy brand a big influencer in women’s fashion. We’re pretty sure the man himself would be proud.