NAME: Hubert de Givenchy
OCCUPATION: Fashion Designer
BIRTH DATE: February 21, 1927
DID YOU KNOW?: Hubert de Givenchy designed Audrey Hepburn‘s costumes for several films, including Breakfast at Tiffany’s.
EDUCATION: École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts (Paris)
PLACE OF BIRTH: Beauvais, France
FULL NAME: Hubert James Marcel Taffin de Givenchy
AKA: Count Hubert James Marcel Taffin de Givenchy
BEST KNOWN FOR: French fashion designer Hubert de Givenchy is known for his elegant haute couture designs and professional relationships with clients like Audrey Hepburn.
Hubert de Givenchy Marcel Taffin de Givenchy was born on February 21, 1927, in the city of Beauvais in northern France. His parents, Lucien and Béatrice (née Badin) Taffin de Givenchy, gave him and his brother, Jean-Claude, an aristocratic heritage. After Lucien Taffin de Givenchy died in 1930, Givenchy was raised by his mother and his maternal grandmother.
In 1944, Hubert de Givenchy moved to Paris, where he studied art at the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts. Though he briefly considered a career in law, he decided to enter the world of fashion and, at the age of 17, began an apprenticeship with designer Jacques Fath. After his time with Fath, Givenchy worked for several famous French couture houses in the 1940s: Lucien Lelong, Robert Piquet and Elsa Schiaparelli.
Givenchy opened his own design house in 1952. His debut collection was a hit. It featured separates such as long skirts and tailored blouses, including the “Bettina blouse,” named after model Bettina Graziani. In his following collections, he also designed elegant evening gowns, feminine hats and tailored suits, and the Givenchy name became synonymous with Parisian chic.
In 1953, Givenchy met Spanish designer Cristóbal Balenciaga, whom he greatly admired. In 1957, the two designers teamed up to introduce a new silhouette called the “sack,” a loose form without any waistline.
By the 1960s, Givenchy, setting new trends and embracing certain aspects of youth culture, had begun to favor shorter hemlines and straighter silhouettes in his designs.
Givenchy designed for many celebrity clients, but his best-known client (who became a close personal friend) was Audrey Hepburn. Givenchy and Hepburn met in 1953, when she was just a rising star; he designed her costumes for Sabrina (1954) and helped to define her classic, gamine style. Over the following decade, he designed her costumes for Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961), Charade (1963), Paris When It Sizzles (1964) and How to Steal a Million (1966). The Givenchy brand also released a fragrance inspired by Hepburn called L’Interdit.
Among the other well-known women of style dressed by Givenchy were U.S. first lady Jacqueline Kennedy, who wore a Givenchy gown during an official visit to Paris in 1961; Princess Grace of Monaco; Wallis Simpson, Duchess of Windsor; and socialite Babe Paley.
After selling his business to the luxury conglomerate Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessey in 1988, Givenchy designed for seven more years, retiring and presenting his final collection in 1995. He was succeeded as head designer by enfant terrible John Galliano.
Designers to later serve as head designer at Givenchy include Alexander McQueen and Riccardo Tisci.
Givenchy lives in retirement at a country estate called Le Jonchet in the French countryside. His work has been shown in retrospective exhibitions at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York and the Musée Galliera in Paris, and he received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Council of Fashion Designers of America in 1996.