Hubert de Givenchy

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Hubert de Givenchy
Hubert de Givenchy in his atelier at Avenue George V.tif
Givenchy in 1972
Born(1927-02-20)20 February 1927
Died10 March 2018(2018-03-10) (aged 91)
EducationÉcole des Beaux-Arts
Known forLittle black dress
Partner(s)Philippe Venet
RelativesJames de Givenchy (nephew)
AwardsChevalier de la Légion d'honneur (1983)[1]
Medal of l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (1992)[1]

Count Hubert James Marcel Taffin de Givenchy (pronounced [ybɛʁ də ʒivɑ̃ʃi]; 20 February 1927[2] – 10 March 2018[3]) was a French aristocrat and fashion designer who founded the house of Givenchy in 1952. He is famous for having designed much of the personal and professional wardrobe of Audrey Hepburn and clothing for Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy. He was named to the International Best Dressed List Hall of Fame in 1970.[4]

Early life[edit]

Hubert James Taffin de Givenchy was born on 20 February 1927 in Beauvais, Oise[5][6][7] into a Protestant family.[2] He was the younger son of Lucien Taffin de Givenchy, Marquis of Givenchy (1888–1930), and his wife, the former Béatrice ("Sissi") Badin (1888–1976). The Taffin de Givenchy family, which traces its roots to Venice, Italy (the original surname was Taffini), was ennobled in 1713, at which time the head of the family became Marquis of Givenchy.[8] He had an elder brother, Jean-Claude de Givenchy (1925–2009), who inherited the family's marquessate and eventually became the president of Parfums Givenchy.[9]

After his father's death from influenza in 1930, he was raised by his mother and maternal grandmother,[7] Marguerite Dieterle Badin (1853–1940), the widow of Jules Badin (1843–1919), an artist who was the owner and director of the historic Gobelins Manufactory and Beauvais tapestry factories. Artistic professions ran in the extended Badin family. Givenchy's maternal great-grandfather, Jules Dieterle, was a set designer who also created designs for the Beauvais factory, including a set of 13 designs for the Elysée Palace. One of his great-great-grandfathers also designed sets for the Paris Opera.[10]

He moved to Paris at the age of 17, and he studied at the École des Beaux-Arts.[6][7]


Givenchy's first designs were done for Jacques Fath in 1945.[6][11] Later he did designs for Robert Piguet and Lucien Lelong (1946) – working alongside the still-unknown Pierre Balmain and Christian Dior.[6][11] From 1947 to 1951 he worked for the avantgarde designer Elsa Schiaparelli.[6][11]

Hat for Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany's designed by Givenchy.

In 1952, he opened his own design house at the Plaine Monceau in Paris.[6][7] Later, he named his first collection "Bettina Graziani" for Paris's top model at the time.[6] His style was marked by innovation, contrary to the more conservative designs by Dior. At 25, he was the youngest designer of the progressive Paris fashion scene. His first collections were characterized by the use of rather cheap fabrics for financial reasons, but they always piqued curiosity through their design.[12]

Audrey Hepburn, later the most prominent proponent of Givenchy's fashion, and Givenchy first met in 1953 during the shoot of Sabrina.[13][14] He went on to design the black dress she wore in Breakfast at Tiffany's.[13][14] He also developed his first perfume collection for her (L'Interdit and Le de Givenchy).[6][7] Audrey Hepburn was the face of that fragrance. This was the first time a star was the face of a fragrance's advertising campaign.[15]

At that time, Givenchy also met his idol Cristóbal Balenciaga.[7][16] Givenchy sought inspiration not only from the lofty settings of haute couture but also in such avant-garde environments as Limbo, the store in Manhattan's East Village.[17]

Givenchy's notable clients included Donna Marella Agnelli, Lauren Bacall,[5] Ingrid Bergman, Countess Mona von Bismarck, Countess Cristiana Brandolini d'Adda, Sunny von Bülow, Renata Tebaldi, Maria Callas, Capucine, Marlene Dietrich,[5] Daisy Fellowes, Greta Garbo, Gloria Guinness, Dolores Guinness, Aimee de Heeren, Audrey Hepburn,[13] Jane Holzer, Grace Kelly,[13] Princess Salimah Aga Khan, Rachel Lambert Mellon, Sophia Loren, Jeanne Moreau, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis,[13] Empress Farah Pahlavi, Babe Paley, Lee Radziwill, Comtesse Jacqueline de Ribes, Nona Hendryx, Baroness Pauline de Rothschild, Frederica von Stade, Baroness Gaby Van Zuylen van Nijevelt, Diana Vreeland, Betsey Cushing Roosevelt Whitney, Baroness Sylvia de Waldner, the Duchess of Windsor, Haitian first lady Michèle Duvalier and Jayne Wrightsman.

In 1954, Givenchy's prêt-à-porter collection debuted.[7][16]

Givenchy created the iconic 'Balloon coat' and the 'Baby Doll' dress in 1958.[18][19]

In 1969,[20] a men's line was also created.[7] From 1976 through 1987, the Ford Motor Company offered a Givenchy Edition of its Continental Mark series (1981 to 1983) and Lincoln Continental (1982 to 1987) automobiles beginning with the 1976 Continental Mark IV coupe and ending with 1983 Lincoln Mark VI and the 1987 Lincoln Continental sedan. In 1988, he organized a retrospective of his work at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills, California.[11]

The House of Givenchy was split in 1981, with the perfume line going to Veuve Clicquot, and the fashion branch was acquired by LVMH in 1989.[21] As of today, LVMH owns Parfums Givenchy as well.[6]

Later life[edit]

Givenchy retired from fashion design in 1995.[13] His successor to head the Givenchy label was John Galliano.[6][7] After a brief stint by Galliano, a five-year stay from Alexander McQueen and a term from 2001 to 2004 by Julien Macdonald, Givenchy women's ready-to-wear and haute couture was headed by Riccardo Tisci from 2005 until 2017.[6][7] Clare Waight Keller held the post from 2017[22] until April 2020.[23] Matthew M. Williams became Givenchy's creative director in June 2020.[24]

Givenchy resided at the Château du Jonchet, a listed historic castle in Romilly-sur-Aigre, Eure-et-Loir, near Paris.[7] In his retirement, he focused on collecting 17th and 18th-century bronze and marble sculptures.[14] In July 2010, he spoke at the Oxford Union.[6][7] From 8 to 14 September 2014, during the Biennale des Antiquaires, he organized a private sale exhibition at Christie's in Paris featuring, artwork by Jean-Baptiste-Claude Odiot, the Manufacture nationale de Sèvres, Jacques-Louis David, and Anne-Louis Girodet de Roussy-Trioson, etc.[25]

In January 2007, the French Post Office issued postage stamps for Valentine's Day designed by Givenchy. In October 2014, a retrospective exhibition featuring ninety-five of his designed pieces took place at the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum in Madrid, Spain.[13][26]

His longtime partner was fashion designer Philippe Venet.[27]

Hubert de Givenchy died in his sleep at the Renaissance chateau near Paris on Saturday 10 March 2018.[3][28][29][30][31] He was 91[32] and was buried in Passy Cemetery in Paris.

Grave in Passy Cemetery.


  • Françoise Mohrt, The Givenchy Style (1998), Assouline. ISBN 2-84323-107-8
  • Pamela Clarke Keogh, Hubert de Givenchy (introduction): Audrey style (1999), Aurum Press. ISBN 1-85410-645-7
  • Jean-Noël Liaut: Hubert de Givenchy : Entre vies et légendes (2000), Editions Grasset & Fasquelle. ISBN 2-246-57991-0


  1. ^ a b Mohrt, Françoise. The Givenchy Style. Assouline, 1998. ISBN 2-84323-107-8, p. 204.
  2. ^ a b "Le couturier Hubert de Givenchy est mort à l'âge de 91 ans". Le Monde (in French). 12 March 2018.
  3. ^ a b "'Little black dress' designer Givenchy dies aged 91". Yahoo News Australia. 13 March 2018. Archived from the original on 12 March 2018. Retrieved 12 March 2018.
  4. ^ Zilkha, Bettina (2004). Ultimate Style – The Best of the Best Dressed List. p. 116. ISBN 2-84323-513-8.
  5. ^ a b c Hubert de Givenchy at FMD
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Hubert de Givenchy: 'It was always my dream to be a dress designer', The Independent, 7 June 2010
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Connie Roff, Who's Who: Hubert de Givenchy, Vogue, 11 November 2011
  8. ^ Jougla VI, 256, numéro 32324.
  9. ^ New York Times,Hubert de Givenchy Dies at 91; Fashion Pillar of Romantic Elegance, by Eric Wilson, March 12 2018
  10. ^ (fr), Givenchy, Hubert de
  11. ^ a b c d Rose-Mary Turk, Givenchy : For 36 years, He Has Reigned as a Prince of Fashion; an Unusual Retrospective in L.A. Will Show Why, The Los Angeles Times, 28 October 1988
  12. ^ Working on a tight budget, Givenchy served up the floor-length skirts and country chic blouses in raw white cotton materials normally reserved for fittings. French fashion designer Hubert de Givenchy has died at the age of 91, News Corp Australia Network, March 13, 2018
  13. ^ a b c d e f g Ashifa Kassam, Hubert de Givenchy needled by collapse of haute couture, The Guardian, 22 October 2014
  14. ^ a b c Mary M. Lane, Hubert de Givenchy Remembers Audrey Hepburn, The Wall Street Journal, 4 September 2012
  15. ^ History of the house
  16. ^ a b Lauren Milligan, Hubert De Givenchy On Fashion Today, Vogue, 20 October 2014
  17. ^ Vogue (15 February 1966)
  18. ^ The iconic Givenchy balloon coat
  19. ^ The 'baby doll' dress Archived 24 November 2015 at the Wayback Machine
  20. ^ Givenchy Gentleman: prêt-à-porter for men Archived 24 November 2015 at the Wayback Machine
  21. ^ Pat McColl, Fashion 89 : Givenchy and Valentino Add Final Touch, The Los Angeles Times, 27 January 1989
  22. ^ Vogue, Clare Waight Keller Is Givenchy’s New Artistic Director, March 16, 2017 by Nicole Phelps
  23. ^ Mackelden, Amy. "Clare Waight Keller Leaves Givenchy After Three Years". Harper's Bazaar. Retrieved 15 June 2021.
  24. ^ De Klerk, Amy. "Givenchy announces new creative director". Harper's Bazaar. Retrieved 15 June 2021.
  25. ^ Christie's: Empire, mise en scène par Monsieur Hubert de Givenchy
  26. ^ Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum: Hubert de Givenchy
  27. ^ Modeschöpfer Hubert de Givenchy ist tot (german)
  28. ^ "Givenchy, French fashion icon, dies aged 91". BBC News. 12 March 2018.
  29. ^ Wilsher, Kim (12 March 2018). "Hubert de Givenchy, maker of style icons, dies aged 91". The Guardian.
  30. ^ Wilson, Eric (12 March 2018). "Hubert de Givenchy, Pillar of Romantic Elegance in Fashion, Dies at 91". The New York Times. Retrieved 12 March 2018.
  31. ^ Fashionista website. Retrieved 14 March 2018.
  32. ^ "French fashion icon Givenchy dies". BBC News. 12 March 2018. Retrieved 29 November 2018.

External links[edit]