Breakfast at Tiffany’s remains one of the best-loved films of all time, even fifty-one years after its release. It could be said this is partly due to the screenplay based on Truman Capote’s book and the portrayal of Holly Golightly by Audrey Hepburn, but I would the gorgeous fashions created by Hubert de Givenchy to that list.
It is his simple, chic dress we see in our mind’s eye when picturing the star out on the sidewalk in front of Tiffany’s. What a breathtaking scene and it sure is difficult to imagine it without that signature Givenchy dress.
Givenchy’s fashion actually graced other Audrey Hepburn films, including Sabrina and How to Steal a Million. Upon discovering his work upon his premiere collection in 1952, Givenchy became the designer of choice for Hepburn, and she became his muse. She said of him,
“His are the only clothes in which I am myself. He is far more than a couturier, he is a creator of personality.”
Givenchy Designer To The Stars
Givenchy has dressed many iconic women of the years, including Marlene Dietrich, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Ingrid Bergman, Greta Garbo, Elizabeth Taylor, Grace Kelly, and the Duchess of Windsor, Wallis Simpson.
Born into an aristocratic family (his father was the marquis of Givenchy) in 1927, he decided to follow in the artistic traditions of his mother’s family and become a fashion designer after being inspired by a trip to the Paris Exposition in 1937. He first worked with Jacques Fath and Christian Dior and opened his own design house in 1952. His first collection was named for a popular French model and was called Bettina Graziani.
Givenchy’s design aesthetic revolved around the concept of simplicity, but also included subtle, yet powerful, detailing that captivated. His designs focused on the line as opposed to decoration and as a result, they exuded elegance. His approach was somewhat in response to the post-war opulence of Dior’s New Look, which featured lots of boning, full skirts, and the signature exaggerated hourglass shape.
In contrast, Givenchy’s designs were less fussy, uncomplicated, and leaner.
He has stated that his main inspiration was the Spanish fashion designer Cristóbal Balenciaga, who is best known for his innovations like the bubble skirt and his sculptural designs. The pair actually became friends and had design houses across the street from each other and would meet regularly to critique each other’s work.
The House of Givenchy is still in existence today, but Hubert de Givenchy stepped down in 1995. Since then, there have been several personnel changes, including most notably John Galliano and Alexander McQueen, with Riccardo Tisci acting as the head now.
Some iconic historical designs of Givenchy’s include the following:
Audrey Hepburn Breakfast At Tiffany’s, 1961via Christie’s
Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s in Givenchy.
Jacqueline Kennedy in Givenchy
First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy in Givenchy and pictured with General Charles DeGaulle at Versailles in 1961.
Grace Kelly in Givenchy
Grace Kelly in Givenchy and with Price Rainier at a meeting at the White House to meet JFK and the First Lady.
From the premier collection of House of Givenchy, 1952.