Thursday, August 4, 2011

Hepburn & Givenchy-A Dynamic Duo

An Enduring Relationship
Holly Golightly & Cat
Collections:  In my last post I talked about the influence Balenciaga has had on the work of contemporary designers such as, Ralph Rucci.  The Spanish master has also influenced the work of his contemporaries, such as Hubert de Givenchy.  With the anniversary of the film, "Breakfast At Tiffany's" and in keeping with the theme of the "Little Black Dress", I couldn't help but address the relationship between the actress and the designer.  As one blogger put it, 

"Audrey is the queen of the little black dress."

Givenchy began his career in 1946 after completing his education at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris.  Working first for Jacques Fath, he then moved to the house of Lucien Lelong where he worked with fellow assistants Pierre Balmain and Christian Dior before moving on to a working relationship with Elsa Schiaparelli!  An illustrious beginning to any career.  In 1952, he opened his own premises across the street from Balenciaga, who he admitted was his mentor and inspiration, at Parc Monceau.  Strapped for cash for his first fashion show, he chose to create his line in cotton.  Consisting of blouses and skirts, emphasizing comfort, he was an instant hit.  Elle magazine honored him by featuring a cotton blouse from his first collection on their front cover.  Playing on the newly developed concept of the "boutique", his collection played on spontaneity and individualism.  It would be the forerunner of pret-a-porter.

He first met Audrey Hepburn when she was in Paris shopping for pieces to supplement her wardrobe for the film, "Sabrina".  He later admitted that he was actually expecting Katharine Hephurn, he had never heard of Audrey.  Audrey became both an inspiration and ambassador for him.  Eventually he would design all of Hepburn's fashion apparel for seven other films between 1954 and 1966.  His work often contributed to the plots, illustrating the change from a simple girl to a woman of the world or vice versa.  Audrey would also pose for film and fashion photographs in Givenchy's models furthering his public personae.  She even acted as his mannequin at a fashion show for the benefit of war victims, organized by the firm, Gerzon, in Amsterdam.  The designer was often her choice for the clothes in her private life.  Their association would last some 40 years and numerous films later.

Sabrina, 1954
Funny Face, 1956
Love in the Afternoon, 1956
Breakfast At Tiffany's, 1961
Charade, 1963
How to Steal a Million, 1966
Two for the Road, 1966

"The dress must follow the body of a woman, not the body following the shape of the dress."
Hubert de Givenchy

Fashion Sketch for "Sabrina"
Audrey Hepburn, Sabrina, 1954

The much copied black cocktail dress.
Hubert de Givenchy would provide these two iconic dresses for the film.

Love In the Afternoon, 1956

Breakfast At Tiffany's, 1961

Yellow Wool Coat, Charade, 1963
Givenchy sketch for coat above

Two for the Road, 1966

How to Steal a Million, 1966

Audrey was the first star to endorse a perfume

December 8, 2009.  Hepburn collection displayed for auction
Now part of the collection of the Municpal Museum of The Hague in the Netherlands, this cocktail dress and coat employ the favorite colour of two of Givenchy's contemporaries;  Schiaparelli and Balenciaga.  In 1954, Givenchy was to come into contact with Balenciaga and from him he learned the importance to design of good proportions.  Balenciaga maintained that the current emphasis on the waist was often at the sacrifice of proportion.

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