Givenchy is a luxury French fashion and perfume house offering a brand of haute couture clothing, accessories, fragrances and cosmetics.
The company is a member of Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture et du Pret-a-Porter (the Governing body for the French Fashion Industry) and is owned by LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, more commonly known as LVMH.
The Early Years
Huibert James Taffin de Givenchy was born on the 20th February 1927 in Beauvais, France. Hubert founded the fashion house in 1952 where he quickly launched his first collection, the ‘Les Separables’, a collection which would undoubtedly leave a mark on the Fashion Industry and consisted of floaty skirts and puffy blouses. The blouse was known as the Bettina Blouse, after Bettina Graziani, the French Fashion model.
Hubert earned a reputation for breaking with the current fashion and was nicknamed ‘Enfant Terrible of Haute Couture’. He received critical acclaim from both Vogue magazine and The New York Times with Vogue calling it a ‘Wonderful First Collection’, and The New York Times publishing an entire article entitled ‘A Star is Born’. L’Album du Figaro wrote “In one night, Hubert de Givenchy became one of fashion’s most famous children with his first collection.”
The new style which incorporated spare lines, slender hips and slim silhouettes soon became popular with famous actresses across the globe.
The skirts and blouses featured in Les Separables were elegant and light, blending architectural lines and simplicity. Hubert used a material called ‘shirting’, a raw cotton which created this chic and casual collection.
By 1954 Hubert had presented his first shirt dress, which later became known as the sack dress. Hubert became the first high fashion designer to have created a luxurious ready to wear clothing line.
Expansion and new lines
1964 saw the beginning of the company’s diversification of the product lines. The first being the introduction of a Men’s Fashion line. By 1969 a boutique store on Avenue George V was opened and the expansion continued with shoes, jewellery, ties and upholstery all being created.
Hilton Hotels also approached Hubert asking him to design the interior of their hotels all around the world. His flare and creativity was so well known he was also asked by the Lincoln Division of Ford Motor Company to design the interior of the Continental Mark V.
Honours and retirement
Hubert was by now a highly acclaimed designer and during 1979 received two awards. The first was personality of the year and the second was when The Best Magazine elected him the most elegant man of the year.
In 1982, Audrey Hepburn, a known muse of the designer presided over a retrospective organised by the Fashion Institute of Technology of New York.
In 1983 Hubert was named ‘Chevalier de la Legion d’Honneur’ (Knight), this was closely followed by Jacques Lang, the French Minister of Culture in 1985, presenting Hubert with an Oscar dedicated to the art of elegance.
In 1995, after an incredibly successful career spanning 40 years, Hubert retired and was succeeded by some of Fashion’s greatest names including John Galliano, Alexander McQueen, Julien MacDonald, Riccardo Tisci and, Clare Waight Keller, who designed Ms Meghan Markle’s bridal gown for her wedding to Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex.
Parfums and Fragrances
In 1957 Les Parfums Givenchy was founded and Audrey Hepburn was asked to be ‘the face’ of L’Interdit for one year. The first time a movie star was ever used for a advertising and marketing campaign.
Following on from L’Interdit the company launched two more parfums, one named after its founder and the second named l’Eau de Vetiver. It was not until 1970 that the company launched its female fragrance with the tag line “Who knows why one is reminded of a particular woman and not another one? Givenchy III gives memories to men.”
The success of the parfums and fragrances arm of the brand led to a factory being constructed in Huberts home town of Beauvais.
There have been many famous faces who wore the brand including the Guiness family, the Rothchilds and Kennedy family, including Jacqueline Kennedy who wore the clothes to the funeral of John F Kennedy.
Moving forward to May 2019 the first every pop-up beauty suite opened its doors at the Cannes Film Festival. Festival guests could visit the beauty suite to receive a makeover ahead of their walk down the red carpet.
Sadly in May 2018 Hubert peacefully passed away in Paris, aged 91.