Count Hubert James Marcel Taffin de Givenchy(pronounced [ybɛʁ də ʒivɑ̃ʃi]; 20 February 1927 – 10 March 2018) was a French fashion designer who founded The House of Givenchy in 1952. He was famous for having designed much of the personal and professional wardrobe of Audrey Hepburn and clothing for Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy. He was named to the International Best Dressed List Hall of Fame in 1970.
Hubert James Taffin de Givenchy was born on 21 February 1927 in Beauvais, Oise into a Protestant family. He was the younger son of Lucien Taffin de Givenchy (1888–1930), marquis of Givenchy, and his wife, the former Béatrice ("Sissi") Badin (1888–1976). The Taffin de Givenchy family, which traces its roots to Venice, Italy (the original surname was Taffini), was ennobled in 1713, at which time the head of the family became marquis of Givenchy. He had an elder brother, Jean-Claude de Givenchy (1925–2009), who inherited the family's marquessate and eventually became the president of Parfums Givenchy.
After his father's death from influenza in 1930, he was raised by their mother and maternal grandmother, Marguerite Dieterle Badin (1853–1940), the widow of Jules Badin (1843–1919), an artist who was the owner and director of the historic Gobelins Manufactory and Beauvais tapestryfactories. Artistic professions ran in the extended Badin family. Givenchy's maternal great-grandfather, Jules Dieterle, was a set designer who also created designs for the Beauvais factory, including a set of 13 designs for the Elysée Palace. One of his great-great-grandfathers also designed sets for the Paris Opera.
He moved to Paris at the age of seventeen, where he studied at the École des Beau
Givenchy's first designs were done for Jacques Fath in 1945. Later he did designs for Robert Piguet and Lucien Lelong (1946) – working alongside the still-unknown Pierre Balmain and Christian Dior. From 1947 to 1951 he worked for the avantgarde designer Elsa Schiaparelli.
Silk blouse and skirt ensemble designed by Givenchy for Givenchy Haute Couture, circa 1985.
In 1952, he opened his own design house at the Plaine Monceau in Paris. Later, he named his first collection "Bettina Graziani" for Paris's top model at the time. His style was marked by innovation, contrary to the more conservative designs by Dior. At 25, he was the youngest designer of the progressive Paris fashion scene. His first collections were characterized by the use of rather cheap fabrics for financial reasons, but they always piqued curiosity through their design.
Audrey Hepburn, later the most prominent proponent of Givenchy's fashion, and Givenchy met in 1953 during the shoot of Sabrina. He went on to design the black dress she wore in Breakfast at Tiffany's.
He also developed his first perfume collection for her (L'Interditand Le de Givenchy). Audrey Hepburn was the face of that fragrance. For the very first time a star was the face of a fragrance's advertising campaign and probably the last time that it was done for free, only by friendship.
At that time, Givenchy also met his idol, Cristóbal Balenciaga. Although a renowned designer, Givenchy not only sought inspiration from the lofty settings of haute couture but also in such avant-garde environments as Limbo, the store in Manhattan's East Village.
Clients have included Donna Marella Agnelli, Lauren Bacall, Ingrid Bergman, Countess Mona von Bismarck, Countess Cristiana Brandolini d'Adda, Sunny von Bülow,Renata Tebaldi, Maria Callas, Capucine, Marlene Dietrich, Daisy Fellowes, Greta Garbo, Gloria Guinness, Dolores Guinness, Aimee de Heeren, Audrey Hepburn, Jane Holzer, Grace Kelly, Princess Salimah Aga Khan, Rachel Lambert Mellon, Jeanne Moreau, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Empress Farah Pahlavi, Babe Paley, Lee Radziwill, Comtesse Jacqueline de Ribes, Nona Hendryx, Baroness Pauline de Rothschild, Frederica von Stade, Baroness Gaby Van Zuylen van Nijevelt, Diana Vreeland, Betsey Cushing Roosevelt Whitney, Baroness Sylvia de Waldner, the Duchess of Windsor, Jayne Wrightsman, etc.
In 1954, Givenchy's prêt-à-porter collection debuted.
De Givenchy created the iconic 'Balloon coat' and the 'Baby Doll' dress in 1958.
In 1969, a men's line was also launched. From 1976 through 1983, the Ford Motor Companyoffered a Givenchy Edition of its Continental Mark series of luxury automobiles beginning in 1976 with the Continental Mark IV coupe and ending with the 1983 Continental Mark VI coupe and sedan. In 1988, he organized a retrospective of his work at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills, California.
The House of Givenchy was split in 1981, with the perfume line going to Veuve Clicquot, while the fashion branch was acquired by LVMH in 1989. As of today, LVMH owns Parfums Givenchy as well.
De Givenchy retired from fashion design in 1995. His successor to head the Givenchy label was John Galliano. After a brief stint by Galliano, a five-year stay from Alexander McQueen and a term from 2001 to 2004 by Julien Macdonald, Givenchy women's ready-to-wear and haute couture was then headed by Riccardo Tisci from 2005 until 2017.
Clare Waight Keller is now the creative director of the fashion house since the Resort 2018 collection.
He resided at the Château du Jonchet, a listed historic castle in Romilly-sur-Aigre, Eure-et-Loir, near Paris. In his retirement, he focused on collecting 17th and 18th-century bronze and marble sculptures. In July 2010, he spoke at the Oxford Union. From 8 to 14 September 2014, during the Biennale des Antiquaires, he organized a private sale exhibition at Christie's in Paris featuring, artwork by Jean-Baptiste-Claude Odiot, the Manufacture nationale de Sèvres, Jacques-Louis David, Anne-Louis Girodet de Roussy-Trioson, etc.
In January 2007, The French Post Office issued postage stamps for Valentine's Day designed by Givenchy. In October 2014, a retrospective exhibition featuring ninety-five of his designed pieces took place at the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum in Madrid, Spain. His longtime partner was fashion designer Philippe Venet.
He died in his sleep at the Renaissance chateau near Paris in March 2018.