Givenchy is a French brand that is best known for making haute-couture clothing and designer accessories. Founded in 1952 by French designer Hubert de Givenchy, the eponymous Maison has been and still is one of the most coveted designer brands since its conception. If you’re wondering about Givenchy’s glamorous history and legacy, keep reading.

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Hubert de Givenchy

Hubert de Givenchy was raised by his mother and grandmother who instilled in him a passion for fashion, fabrics and creativity. 

At the age of 17, Givenchy decided to pursue a fashion career by taking up an apprenticeship at the Jacques Fath couture house whilst studying at the French National School of Fine Art. Following a recommendation from an up-and-coming Christian Dior, Hubert moved to Robert Piguet in 1946 and worked for a brief stint at Lucien Lelong in 1947. He then joined the house of legendary designer Elsa Schiaparelli where he worked his way up to become artistic director of the Schiaparelli boutique on Place Vendôme. 

The Beginning of Givenchy Maison

In 1952, Hubert de Givenchy opened his namesake house and presented his first collection, a line consisting of ‘separates’ (think elegant blouses, light skirts blending architectural lines and simplicity). His use of clean silhouettes and feminine fits translated well to the female figure and the separates made it easier to mix and match to create various looks. This collection was refreshingly different from the rigid pieces that dominated the fashion industry at the time.

Givenchy & Audrey Hepburn

In 1953, Hubert de Givenchy met Audrey Hepburn, who quickly became his muse and the face of the brand. The pair went on to create fashion that redefined the standard of beauty at the time. Together they embraced a lighter and less restricted style that was the norm for the era. His designs embraced simplicity and architectural lines. He introduced the fashion world to the shirtdress and his unique lantern shape. This went on for 40 years. 

Some of the most famous collaborations between the two include a beautiful dress gown made for the 1954 film Sabrina, which earned Givenchy a wardrobe Oscar nomination, and an elegant white floral dress that Hepburn wore to the 1954 Academy Awards (it’s regarded as one of the most famous dresses of the 20th century). Last, but not least, the iconic LBD (Little Black Dress) in the 1961 film Breakfast at Tiffany’s

Givenchy & Balenciaga

In the same year, Givenchy met Cristobal Balenciaga, his idol and mentor. Although there was never a formal apprenticeship between the two, Balenciaga helped Givenchy establish his own style and even advised him on business decisions.

Givenchy Expanding

Givenchy would make fashion history by becoming the first couturier to present a ready-to-wear collection, which represents democratisation in the traditional fashion system that perfectly suited the needs of the burgeoning post-war middle class. 

Givenchy Gentleman

Once business was booming, Givenchy soon came out with a ready-to-wear menswear line called ‘Givenchy Gentleman’ in 1969. His early collections were nothing short of classy and sophisticated, which appealed to high society men. 

Givenchy Reaching New Heights

Givenchy became so successful that it caught the attention of socialites. So, it was no surprise when LVMH (Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton) acquired the brand in 1988. Today, LVMH owns Christian Dior, Tiffany & Co, Fendi, Marc Jacobs, Celine, TAG Heuer, Bulgari, and many more well-respected designer companies. 

The Gracious End to Hubert de Givenchy’s Career

After 40 years, growing his brand to new heights. Hubert de Givenchy finally stepped down in 1995. The designer encourages a new era of creatives to take over and twirl the Maison for a new generation. 

The Next Generation of Givenchy

Givenchy was succeeded by John Galliano, Alexander McQueen, and Julien MacDonald in due time. However, it was Riccardo Tisci who completely turned the company on its head and adopted a fresh look in 2005. Tisci elevated the brand to a whole new status. 

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Riccardo Tisci’s Reign

After all Tisci’s iconic looks at Givenchy, one of our favourite designs is the Antigona handbag silhouette. Its simple shape and structured silhouette quickly became the ‘it’ bag in 2010. The bag is a re-interpretation of Givenchy’s Boston bag. It takes its name from Antigone, a powerful goddess in Greek mythology, the name directly translates to ‘unbending’.

Clare Waight Keller’s Reign

In 2017, Clare Waight Keller took over as the new Givenchy creative director. She took on all creative responsibilities, including Women’s and Men’s ready-to-wear and accessories collections, as well as Haute Couture. However, the most memorable design is Meghan Markle’s bridal gown when she wed Prince Harry on 19 May 2018.

Givenchy Today

After Clare Waight Keller’s reign, comes Matthew Williams. While Williams does not come from a fancy school, he has collaborated with some of the A-list celebrities of today, including Lady Gaga and Kanye West. He also created his own brand Alyx. Despite dealing with the after-effects of the pandemic,  Williams has so far created one of Givenchy’s artistic and entertaining runways since Hubert de Givenchy himself. 

Where To Buy Givenchy

Want to get your hands on coveted Givenchy pieces? Look no further. Bvaultre is Africa’s largest and most trusted source of authentic pre-owned clothing and accessories. Whether you’re looking for a modern item or a precious vintage find, Bvaultre will indulge your every designer desire. Shop online or visit us in-store today. 

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