Adieu Hubert: Remembering The Man Who Built The House of Givenchy
With the death of his father early in life, Hubert Taffin de Givenchy grew up with his family in Beauvais, France. This side of the family was more artistic filled with sculptors, painters and patrons of the arts. The man who sparked his creativity and interest was his maternal grandfather, Jules Dieterle, who worked with Gobelins Manufactory and Beauvais Tapestry—tapestry manufacturers in France. He approached his grandmother and asked, “I have good grades and I am wise, may I see some beautiful fabrics?” It served as his reward for doing a good job. He shared with The Independent, “It’s a fabulous thing to give life to a fabric, to make something move well, the harmony of colour.”
One key quote he is known for is, “Luxury is in each detail.” He may well have taken a cue from the masters who helped hone his craft. In his early career, he worked with notable fashion icons who mentored him including Jacques Fath, Robert Piguet, and Lucien Lelong. In 1952, he went on his own and set up shop at the famed Plaine Monceau in Paris. He named his first collection Bettina Graziani after a famous model in the 1950’s.
In 1953, his most iconic designer-muse relationship and friendship arose when he met Audrey Hepburn in the set of Sabrina. It was in this film and in the historic movie, Breakfast at Tiffany’s that he is remembered for the classic little black dress she wore on set. This just fuelled more interest in his works from other icons such as the Duchess of Windsor, Grace Kelly, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and Greta Garbo. He was named to the International Best Dressed List Hall of Fame come 1970. He was once quoted, “The dress must follow the body of a woman, not the body following the shape of the dress.”
With his business success, it was only a matter of time that he was absorbed and became a part of the global LVMH group. He continued to design with them until he retired in 1995 after a successful run of over four decades. Despite his retirement, he continued to serve as a speaker, inspiration and patron of the arts.
On March 10, 2018, Hubert de Givenchy passed away.
- An Interview with M. Hubert de Givenchy, Published by Julien Breuill, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q0BU9NztNqE
- Hubert Givenchy: ‘It Was Always My Dream To Be A Dress Designer,” The Independent, 7 June 2010
- Hubert de Givenchy needled by collapse of haute couture, The Guardian, 22 October 2014
- Hubert de Givency Remembers Audrey Hepburn, The Wall Street Journal, 4 September, 2012
- History of the House, Givenchy.com
- Givenchy Paper Dolls, Tom Tierney, Dover Publications 2013, NY