Fashion powerhouse, Givenchy, was founded in 1952 by Hubert de Givenchy. Inspirational and innovative, Hubert launched his fashion label with a collection of skirts and blouses – a highly acclaimed instant success. Hubert remained at the helm of the label for over forty years with many celebrated designers following in his footsteps after he retired – Alexander McQueen, Ricardo Tisci and Clare Waight Keller among them.
A favourite high fashion brand with celebrities and royals, and with a particularly notable muse, Audrey Hepburn, Givenchy has been a roaring success from its inception. Begun with a simple womenswear line, today Givenchy boasts womenswear, menswear and childrenswear collections, along with accessories and fragrances.
All images by Givenchy
Hubert de Givenchy
Born into a family of aristocrats, Hubert de Givenchy came into the world in 1927 in the French city of Beauvais. Raised by his mother and grandmother after the sad death of his father just three years after he was born, Hubert developed a love of fashion and fabric from an early age. He left home aged 17 to move to Paris and pursue a career in the fashion industry.
For seven years, Hubert worked for others, learning the fine art of tailoring and design before starting up his own fashion label in 1952. His first collection of skirts and blouses were a huge success, propelling Givenchy into the world of popular high fashion designers almost overnight. Following the release of his first collection, the New York Times reported, ‘a star is born’. Hubert was praised for his innovation in using ‘shirting’, a raw cotton fabric, to create his first line.
Renowned for creating the first shirt dress in 1954, Hubert’s signature sack dress, created in 1957, removed all form-fitting tailoring and raised the hemline to show more leg. Givenchy arguably led the way for the innovative fashion era of the Sixties.
In 1988, Hubert sold the business to luxury fashion group, LVMH. Following over forty years of success leading his luxury fashion label, Hubert retired in 1995. In 2018, aged 91, Hubert passed away having witnessed his label enjoy continued success.
Hubert de Givenchy and Cristóbal Balenciaga shared a close friendship, with Hubert honouring Balenciaga as his inspiration and mentor. Speaking to WWD (Women’s Wear Daily), Hubert said: ‘Balenciaga was my religion’. The two fashion houses set up offices opposite one another and made collaborative mutual agreements when it came to releasing their new collections to buyers and the press.
A friend and muse for over forty years, Audrey Hepburn became synonymous with the brand and by far its most famous and loyal ambassador. Dressing in Givenchy both on and off set, she kept the fashion label in the press and in demand. Perhaps the most famous moment was Hepburn donning Givenchy’s little black dress in the film Breakfast at Tiffany’s, a scene still so well known today.
Following Hubert’s retirement, a number of acclaimed designers became his successors, beginning with John Galliano who only lasted two years before moving to Christian Dior. Alexander McQueen took over as Creative Director at the end of 1996, remaining in that position until Julien MacDonald took the helm in 2001.
MacDonald moved on after a couple of years and the label was without a creative head until the appointment of Ricardo Tisci in 2005. This marked the beginning of a new era for the fashion house as Tisci took it on a journey of his own and remained as the Creative Director for over a decade.
Clare Waight Keller & Meghan Markle
Between 2017 and 2020, Clare Waight Keller took over – the first female creative lead the brand had appointed. She continued the label’s success and was a favourite of Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex. The Duchess wore a gown by Clare Waight Keller to her wedding to HRH Prince Harry in May 2019. She also sought out Keller’s designs for many of her public appearances, including Royal Ascot.
While Ricardo Tisci had designed pieces especially for Kim Kardashian’s eldest two children during his leadership of the brand, there was no formal kidswear line. Givenchy launched a childrenswear collection in 2017 with great success. With offerings from babygrows to mini-me pieces and a line for teens, the collection caters to all age groups.
Upon the departure of Keller, Matthew M. Williams was appointed as the Creative Director of the fashion label. Givenchy remains a fashion powerhouse to this day, with many celebrities and royals championing the designs.
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