Here it is, one of those exhibitions that I was really craving to see. It has finished just recently in March, but I was so impressed by what I saw, that I decided it is of my duty to share it with you, those ones who are as crazy about fashion as I am. The focus of the exhibition was the everlasting glamour of the Givenchy house, and the iconic style of Audrey Hepburn.
The fruitful collaboration of Hubert de Givenchy and Audrey Hepburn resulted in a beautiful friendship that lasted for years. This exhibition was a tribute to the talented actress, whom the designer wanted to honor. The exhibits included the outfits Audrey wore in the scenes of such iconic movies as "Breakfast at Tiffany's", "Sabrina", "How to steel a million", and many others.
So let me lure you into the world of Audrey and Givenchy with all those dreamy dresses, beautifully embellished jackets, and accessories to die for.
How did it all start?
As it happened with most of the great designers, the love of Hubert de Givenchy for art, and fashion traces back to childhood, when he was examining the textile collection in the Tapestry Manufactory of his grandfather - Jules Badin. He had that "deal" with his grandfather that if he gets good marks at school, then he is allowed to see some of the most beautiful fabrics. Even at that age the designer was fascinated by the alluring refinement of the muslins, embroideries and laces.
Being surrounded by such an ambiance, Hubert de Givenchy understood from quite a young age that he wants to be a designer, and he followed this path since then. He moved to Paris when he was seventeen, and studied at the École des Beaux-Arts. He was lucky enough to be accepted as a trainee by Jacques Fath, and a year later continued his training in Robert Piguet's fashion house, meanwhile making a short placement at Lucien Lelong. Later he created designs for Robert Piguet and Lucien Lelong – working alongside the still-unknown Pierre Balmain and Christian Dior, who later suggested him to come and work for Dior. But Hubert de Givency never took up Monsieur Dior's generous offer, as in 1952 he launched his own fashion house, at the age of 25, being the youngest designer in the progressive Paris fashion scene.
The first collection he launched was featuring separates such as long skirts and tailored tops that included the "Bettina blouse," named after model Bettina Graziani. Although the collection was a hit, and the event was a great success, the press still was more eager to write about haute couture collections of the other fashion houses. That's why Givenchy turned to presenting haute couture collections, highlighting elegant evening gowns, feminine hats and tailored suits. The Givenchy name thus became synonymous with Parisian chic.
Meeting the Muse
Hubert de Givenchy designed for many celebrities, but it was a turn of fate that ignited the beginning of deep commitment of a forty year friendship between the designer and the Oscar-winning actress Audrey Hepburn.
Back then Audrey was a much lesser-known starlet who was seeking for a young couturier to design her costumes for the movie "Sabrina". So she set up a meeting with Hubert de Givenchy, who at that time was only 26 years old, but already managed to open his own fashion house, and run it successfully. When Givenchy heard that a “Miss Hepburn” was eager to meet him, he naturally assumed it must be the great Katherine Hepburn. But much to his surprise when the door of his studio opened "There stood a young woman, very slim, very tall, with doe eyes and short hair and wearing a pair of narrow pants, a little T-shirt, slippers, and a gondolier’s hat with red ribbon that read Venezia." As Givenchy was busy preparing his next collection, he couldn't design for Audrey costumes to wear in "Sabrina", so he had to refuse her. But the young and ambitious Audrey was very persistent. She invited him for a dinner, which was unusual for a woman to do back then, and there Hubert de Givenchy found out that he had much in common with the actress. The two became close friends, and it marked the start of "a kind of a marriage" that would originate some of the most iconic on-screen fashion moments.