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7 iconic Givenchy looks

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Hubert de Givenchy has died aged 91.

 
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The founder of The House of Givenchy, Givenchy worked for Elsa Schiaparelli and alongside Christian Dior, he developed a close working relationship with actress Audrey Hepburn, who became the first-ever ‘face’ of a perfume in 1957 when Givenchy launched his L’Interdit fragrance.

The list of stars who proudly wore Givenchy’s designs reads like a who’s who of the mid-twentieth century, from actresses and starlets, to politicians’ wives and even royalty. In memory of the man who dressed some of the most powerful and influential women of the past seventy years, we’ve collected together some of his most iconic and famous looks.

Audrey Hepburn in Sabrina (1954)

 
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Givenchy’s first collaboration with Audrey Hepburn was in Sabrina, where she wears this gown at a pinnacle moment for her character: her transformation from chauffeur’s daughter to debutante.

Whilst the Oscar for Best Costume Design went to Edith Head, who refused to share it with Givenchy, it was the beginning of a lifelong collaboration between Givenchy and Hepburn. This stunning gown later found its way into the private collection of two other screen legends – Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds.

Following their deaths, it was sold at auction in 2017 and raised $170,000 for charity.

The Sack dress (1957)

But Givenchy wasn’t just about the big ballgowns. In 1957, he introduced the sack silhouette, eschewing the nipped-in waists associated with Dior’s New Look of the 1940s in favour of mystery.

He applied the fit to both coats and dresses, alongside raising hemlines in anticipation of the Swinging Sixties to come. It’s a style which has stood the test of time, with Stella McCartney’s Ready-To-Wear Spring 2018 collection featuring similar unstructured designs.

Princess Grace meeting the Kennedys (1961) 

Even royalty found Givenchy’s designs irresistible!

Princess Grace of Monaco chose a green Givenchy dress for a luncheon given at the White House by friends and fellow heads of state, the Kennedys.

By this time, the French designer’s style was so recognisable that the Princess later reported that John F Kennedy himself had recognised it as such.

Jackie Kennedy in Paris (1961) 

 
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Avid fans of Netflix’s The Crown might remember the episode featuring the Kennedys, and the trip they made to Europe prior to meeting the Queen and Prince Philip.Perhaps inspired by her friend Princess Grace, Jackie wore this Givenchy gown to dinner with the French president Charles de Gaulle, honouring their host by wearing a design from his own country.

Such was the impact of the US President’s wife upon Paris during this trip that Kennedy told the press, “I do not think it altogether inappropriate for me to introduce myself. I am the man who accompanied Jacqueline Kennedy to Paris.” 

Wallis Simpson at home (1972)

 
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Not quite royalty, but close enough, Wallis Simpson is one of the most famous – or infamous – women of the twentieth century. Following her marriage to the former King Edward VIII, they moved to France, the home of fashion.

Mrs Simpson – or the Duchess of Windsor as she became – was known for her playful and witty clothes, which is certainly evident from this Givenchy design featuring wool-embroidered monkeys on a cotton skirt.

It might not quite be the classic Hepburn and Kennedy designs he’s best known for, but it’s definitely fun and shows that high fashion doesn’t have to be taken too seriously.

Audrey Hepburn in Funny Face (1957)

 
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Givenchy’s collaborations with Hepburn continued in this musical. This wedding dress, featured in a runway show within the film, helped Givenchy to win the Academy Award for Best Costume Design, which he shared with his former rival, Edith Head.

The tea-length gown is also credited with popularising the style for brides in real-life, a trend which continues to this day.

Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961)

I have to give the final spot on this retrospective to this one. ‘Iconic’ doesn’t seem a big enough word for this particular dress.

It needs no introduction, even to those who somehow believe that Hepburn plays a character called Tiffany in this film. It’s because of this dress that Givenchy became synonymous with the ‘little black dress’, despite Coco Chanel and others previously popularizing it.

At auction in 2006, an anonymous bidder paid £467,200 for it, truly sealing its place in fashion history.

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