In Memoriam: Hubert de Givenchy
I was saddened to hear of the death of legendary French fashion designer Hubert de Givenchy this past weekend at the age of 91. The world has not only lost an immense talent but I remarkable human being full of elegance and grace. I came across a wonderful interview he gave to How to Spend It last year as well as a documentary Hubert de Givenchy: An Haute Couture Destiny that give insight into his kindness and generosity.
It was his friendship with Audrey Hepburn that changed his life and career but it was the relationships with his friends and atelier staff that made his life complete. His secretary, Jeannette Mahler worked for him for 40+ years. He had the same partner Philippe Venet for over 60 years. The fact that Philippe was also an haute couture designer and they could support each other’s careers without jealousy is also a testament to his character.
He even became friends with fashion designer Balenciaga who told him which employees of his to take when he decided to close his business. He walked Bunny Mellon across the street and said she could order her wardrobe from M. Givenchy from then on.
I love the stories of how he would ask someone if they minded if he had a copy made of something they owned that he admired. Is anyone that thoughtful today in the age of Instagram? Hubert de Givenchy represented the type of elegance that rarely exists today but to which we should all aspire.
Photos by Dylan Thomas.