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The Spirit of Hubert de Givenchy.ÆMaking You More Yourself

We all have at least one great outfit that always feels right. You know the one. The one that perfectly melds who you’d like to be with the person you actually are when you feel totally yourself. Maybe that outfit is your favorite little black dress or a comfy pair of jeans with a white tee. Either way, those clothes make you shine because they fit both your figure and your personality, hiding what you want hidden and capitalizing your best assets.

Making you more comfortable in your own skin and therefore more beautiful.Æthat’s the mark of good design as well as style, and that’s the secret Grace Kelly, Jackie Kennedy, and other fashion icons of the 1950s-1990s knew.

That secret is also a name: Hubert de Givenchy. The man behind the haute couture house of Givenchy and the man who helped make Audrey Hepburn a fashion icon.

So just who was this guy that could take a waif like Audrey, whose body shape was the antithesis of what was popular at the time, and make it the new vogue?

The son of a marquis, Givenchy grew up privileged but fatherless. Brought up by his mother and maternal grandparents, his reward for good grades was spending time with the rare textiles his grandfather, a tapestry manufacturer, had collected. After studying at the ‚àö√¢cole des Beaux-Arts, Givenchy spent his apprenticeship at various couture houses, watching as they struggled during the post WWII years. Silk and satin cost too much for war-torn Europe, and women needed clothes that worked in their new, independent lifestyles.

Entre Givenchy, opening his own house with a fresh concept: Mix and Match in wearable fabrics. Titling his first show Separates, his vision for clothes mixed not only separate pieces, but structure with elegance. He was only 24.

Done on a tight budget, the show took place in a small space, with last minute ironing going on in an adjacent bathroom. But in true Givenchy style, those first designs illuminated his talent. They also sold out.

Throughout his 40-year career, he continually took chances, always stepping just beyond the lines and staying with his own vision. While others championed overabundance, Givenchy flaunted clean lines, precision, and understated elegance. He introduced the short skirt when mid-calf length was the thing, and wham, next thing you know, it’s the 60s, and everyone (specifically, Audrey Hepburn) is in a short skirt. He hired black models when others did not, even though his clientele objected. Sure enough, they soon stopped objecting.

Of his genius, Hepburn once said, “His are the only clothes in which I am myself. He is far more than a couturier, he is a creator of personality.”

That ability to capture the essence of a woman, her uniqueness, THAT was what made Givenchy the designer he was. Sure, Chanel invented the little black dress, but Givenchy made it the classic it is today. Can you imagine Holly Golightly, in that moment in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” that transfixes us all, in ANY other dress? Of course not. Absolutely not. No wonder Audrey demanded Hubert design her wardrobe for all her films. She needed him. “It was . . . an enormous help to know that I looked the part . . . Then the rest wasn’t so tough anymore. Givenchy’s lovely simple clothes [gave me] the feeling of being whoever I played.”

The Hepburn/Givenchy partnership worked so well, we have to wonder, WOULD there have been an Audrey Hepburn without Givenchy? Of course there would. But Audrey, by any other designer name, would not have been the same. Not the same thing at all.

So which clothes make you more yourself, and how will you create your personality?



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