The secret of elegance is to look like oneself. - Hubert de Givenchy
Did you know that Givenchy was once considered L’Enfant Terrible of the fashion industry? He created designs with novel silhouettes and unusual fabric choices for the time, however, he would still go on to dress celebrities, royalty, actresses, First Ladies, and princesses. Here’s how the House of Givenchy made its mark on French fashion.
Givenchy: Noble Beginnings
Credit: Instagram/GivenchyBeauty (c) Robert Doisneau
Born Hubert James Taffin de Givenchy in 1927 in Northern France, Givenchy had a noble start to life. The noble house of “De Givenchy” was created in 1713 when the family was uplifted to noble status by the French monarchy - a status that’s still valid today.
Givenchy was raised by his mother and grandmother - two significant artistic influences on Givenchy’s life. In fact, most of the maternal side of his family were in artistic professions - set designers, artists, and tapestry designers were just some of the professions that his extended family were in. However, he was the first to step foot in the fashion industry.
Moving to Paris at 17, Givenchy attended the École des Beaux-Arts - the most well-known art school in all of France. Other famous fashion alumni include Valentino Clemente Ludovico Garavani, but you probably know him better as just ‘Valentino’.
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First Steps in Fashion
Givenchy’s start in the fashion industry was creating designs for established designers at the time, including Jacques Fath, Robert Piguet and Lucien Lelong. He rubbed shoulders with the then also-unknown Christian Dior and Pierre Balmain.
He went to open his own design house at Paris’ famous Plaine Monceau in 1952. He was just 25 - one of the youngest designers on the scene at the time. His early designs were met with great success - he created the Bettina blouse, now an often imitated collared blouse with a nipped-in waist and voluminous, ruffled sleeves. It was named after his muse the beautiful Bettina Graziani - an incredibly famous fashion model at the time.
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Even though he was a young designer, Givenchy wasn’t a stranger to working with high-profile beauties. He would go on to create the iconic little black dress worn by Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, as well as create many stunning designs for Jacqueline Kennedy - the former First Lady of the United States.
He also created the balloon coat and baby doll dress designs. Like the Bettina Blouse, these were silhouettes recreated by many other designers due to their popularity!
You could say that his success came from a combination of creating new designs that defied trends at the time (hence his nickname as the ‘enfant terrible’) and his close friendship with Audrey Hepburn. He created many designs that she wore, and she was actually the face of Givenchy’s first fragrance for free - something completely unheard of at the time.
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The Definition of Elegance
Givenchy would go on to dress countless members of the nobility, celebrities, actresses, singers, and diplomats - the list is way too long to list here, but some names you might recognise include Grace Kelly, Lauren Bacall, Sophia Loren, and Marlene Dietrich.
His designs embodied elegance and beauty, and that’s something that still comes through the essence of Givenchy Couture and Givenchy Beauty. Get your beauty affairs together with a touch of elegance from Givenchy.
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