Givenchy VintageIn 1927, he was born Hubert James Taffin de Givenchy to an aristocratic family in the French city of Beauvais. Having lost his father in 1930, he was raised largely by his mother and maternal grandmother from whom he inherited his passion for fabrics. Inspired, Givenchy left his hometown at the age of 17 for the vibrant opportunities of Paris.
Upon moving to Paris in 1944, Givenchy enrolled at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts. He began his career as an apprentice of Jacques Fath in 1945, and continued to learn the art of the couturier over the following years from Robert Piguet, Lucien Lelong and legendary Italian designer Elsa Schiaparelli. In 1952, he established his couture house; la Maison Givenchy. Two years later in 1954, Givenchy became the first couturier to present a luxury ready-to-wear line. He inherited his design philosophy of simplicity from his friend, idol and mentor, Cristóbal Balenciaga. "Balenciaga was my religion," he told WWD in 2007. "There's Balenciaga, and the good Lord."
Givenchy first met his iconic muse, Audrey Hepburn, in 1953, in a romantic twist of fate that rivals any of her films. In the words of Hepburn, Givenchy to her was more than a couturier, and indeed she to him far more than a muse. In 1957 saw the launch of one of Givenchy's most influential designs, the "sack" silhouette. Revolutionary for its time, the sack dress abandoned form and waistline, and in its place offered mystery surrounding the female body beneath. Givenchy also encouraged women to show more of their legs during the day with raised hemlines, and in this movement he became a predecessor of the one of the most influential decades in fashion, the Sixties.
In that same year, Givenchy launched his first perfume, L'interdit. Promoted by Hepburn, its success soared; hitting headlines as the first time the world had seen an actress as the face of a perfume. The year 1973 marked an additional landmark in the House of Givenchy, with the launch of the first men's collection Gentleman Givenchy. Selling his business to Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessey in 1988, and retiring in 1995, Givenchy was succeeded by widely celebrated and innovative designers including Alexander McQueen, John Galliano, Julien Macdonald, and Riccardo Tisci - who now stands at the helm of the Givenchy empire, as the creative director for the Givenchy haute couture and ready-to-wear collections.
Now in his Eighties, Givenchy - who lives in a country estate Le Jonchet just outside of Paris - has all but removed himself from the fashion world, emerging only occasionally for brief interviews or rare public talks. In 2017, Clare Waight Keller succeeded to Riccardo Tisci as Artistic Director of the Brand.