Fashion Biography

Hubert De Givenchy, Fashion Designer


Fashion Designer Hubert de Givenchy was born to a wealthy family 1927 in Beauvais, France. He studied at the ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris. His first job in the fashion industry was when he worked for Jacques Fath in Paris in 1945. He then worked briefly for Robert Piguet and for Lucien Lelong (1946) [where he worked with Lelong"s assistants, Pierre Balmain and Christian Dior], and finally for Elsa Schiaparelli (1947 1951). He opened the House of Givenchy in 1952. He named his first collection for Bettina Graziani, Paris"s top model. Balenciaga was his mentor, although he never worked for him, whose atelier was just across the avenue George V.

Two women represent the typical Givenchy style of the 50s and 60s: Audrey Hepburn and Jackie Kennedy. By furnishing Hollywood movie stars beginning in 1953, Givenchy achieved a popularity like never before. A rather sad event brought global attention to Givenchy dresses. When John F.Kennedy was assasinated, the world witnessed a mourning Kennedy family all dressed in Givenchy clothes. Jackie Kennedy ordered a Givenchy dress for the funeral, which was especially flown in from Paris. It is said, that at that time, the Givenchy atelier possessed individual patterns sheets for every female member of the Kennedy family. In 1955, he introduced separates and then the Orlon fabric to the haute couture. His designs are elegant and refined.

In 1988, Givenchy sold his business to Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton (LVMH) for financial reasons. Until his retirement in 1995, he remained head of design, always working in a white lab coat. Givenchy is a collector of antique furniture, Louis XIV through French Empire.

The designer for the men"s collection is Piergiorgio Dutto, who recently tries to give the Givenchy Men collection a new appeal. John Galliano, a British designer who was born in 1962 in Gibraltar, replaced Givenchy as designer in late 1995. Galliano graduated from St. Martin"s School of Art in London in 1984. His inspiration comes from various historical periods, especially the 1940s. In 1987, he received the British Fashion Council Designer of the Year award. His first collection for Givenchy combined his extravagant evening dresses with the elegant restraint of Givenchy. He also injected a new competition and creativity into the French haute couture.

Interestingly, it has been announced in October 1996 that Galliano will switch to Dior, taking the vacant position of Gianfranco Ferre. In the future, design will be executed by another Englishman, 27 year old Alexander McQueen, who was trained like Galliano at the renowned St.Martin"s School of Art in London and who received the Designer of the Year award for 1996 of the British Fashion Award council.

The House of Givenchy is a member of Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture et du Pret a Porter.

Selected Lines
Couture Givenchy
Boutique Givenchy
Givenchy Men
Givenchy Monsieur

Givenchy Gentlemen
In 1996 Givenchy plans to rejuvenate its product program by introducing a new fashion oriented ready to wear men"s line called Givenchy Men.

Selected Awards
30 year retrospective exhibit at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York (1982)
40 year retrospective exhibit at the Palais Galliera in Paris (1992)

Hubert de Givenchy (like Dior) is a division of Europe"s largest luxury products manufacturer, Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton (LVMH), which is owned and operated by Bernand Arnault through the investment company Financiere Agache.

In 1993, Givenchy achieved total sales worth of $176 million (up 25%), making it the second largest apparel division of LVMH after Dior. Ready to wear men"s lines contributed a third to total sales. Before Galliano took over design, the European business was only 20% of total sales. Since then, the number of points of sale in Europe is four times higher than in the past.

Givenchy had only two boutiques in 1993.

Designed in Italy and produced in France by apparel manufacturer Bidermann.

LVMH Mot Hennessy Louis Vuitton is the world"s largest luxury goods company, with brands that are bywords for the good life. LVMH currently owns Givenchy perfumes, fashion and leather goods. Chairman Bernard Arnault and his family own 48% of LVMH.

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By Courtney Lynne
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