Hubert de Givenchy Dead at 91

I have just received the tragic news that another legend has left the planet. Fashion designer Hubert de Givenchy, who opened his eponymous fashion house in 1952, died past Saturday aged 91 as his partner – former haute couture designer – Philippe Venet has announced today. The couple lived in a Renaissance chateau near Paris.

«Balloon Coat», Hubert de Givenchy, 1958

The aristocratic gentleman was known for his sophisticated and ladylike chic in the 1950s and 1960s and famous for having designed much of the personal and professional wardrobe of Audrey Hepburn, as well as clothing for clients such as Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy and Grace Kelly.

At the age of seventeen, he moved to Paris where he studied at the École des Beaux-Arts. Givenchy’s first designs were done for Jacques Fath in 1945. Later he did designs for Robert Piguet and Lucien Lelong (1946) – working alongside the still-unknown Pierre Balmain and Christian Dior, followed by 5 years working for the avantgarde designer Elsa Schiaparelli before he opened his own design house at the Plaine Monceau in Paris in 1952.

Audrey Hepburn wearing Givenchy in 1954 film «Sabrina».

His style was marked by innovation, contrary to the more conservative designs by Dior. At 25, he was the youngest designer of the progressive Paris fashion scene. His first collections were characterized by the use of rather cheap fabrics for financial reasons, but they always piqued curiosity through their design. Audrey Hepburn, later the most prominent proponent of Givenchy’s fashion, and Givenchy met in 1953 during the shoot of «Sabrina». He went on to design the famous «little black dress» she wore in «Breakfast at Tiffany’s».

In 1961, when Audrey Hepburn got the roll of Holly Golightly, designer Hubert de Givenchy designed the famous black dress which became one of the most iconic clothing items of the 20th century.

He also developed his first perfume collection for her (L’Interdit and Le de Givenchy) and made Audrey Hepburn the face of it. For the very first time a star was the face of a fragrance’s advertising campaign and probably the last time that it was done for free, only by friendship.

At that time, Givenchy also met his idol, Cristóbal Balenciaga. Although a renowned designer, Givenchy not only sought inspiration from the lofty settings of haute couture but also in such avant-garde environments as Limbo, the store in Manhattan’s East Village. In 1954, Givenchy’s prêt-à-porter collection debuted.

1957 Babydoll Dress by Givenchy

The House of Givenchy was split in 1981, with the perfume line going to Veuve Clicquot, while the fashion branch was acquired by LVMH in 1989. As of today, LVMH owns Parfums Givenchy as well.

De Givenchy retired from fashion design in 1995. His successor to head the Givenchy label was John Galliano, followed by a five-year stay from Alexander McQueen and a term from 2001 to 2004 by Julien Macdonald. As we all know, Riccardo Tisci revived the Givenchy brand tremendously from 2005 until 2017. This season, Clare Waight Keller presented her first runway show for Givenchy.

Rest in peace, Hubert de Givenchy and thank you for all those wonderful fashionable moments.
You will never be forgotten!

LoL, Sandra

Photos: Courtesy of Givenchy, Getty Images

The Return of Schiaparelli

Schiaparelli screen

The Elsa Schiaparelli brand, co-star of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s new Costume Institute exhibition, is set to be relaunched by its current owner, Diego Della Valle, who purchased Schiaparelli’s trademarks and archives  in 2006, is on the hunt for a head designer which is said to be announced in October this year. Moreover, he has hired French model and actress Farida Khelfa as Schiaparelli’s spokeswoman.

FaridaFarida Khelfa

In July there will be the opening of the Maison Schiaparelli on Place Vendôme. The residence where the designer dominated the scene during the thirties and forties, her historical address revisited in a contemporaneous view maintaining the ateliers’ allure, where the new collection will be showcased. Starting March 2013, the first collection pieces will be presented. The new Schiaparelli universe, made up of very special collections representing her style well, with strong focus on accessories, for which Schiaparelli was the creator and protagonist. High quality fragrances and cosmetics, today, will exemplify her myth.



When everything is forgotten this is what survives! In the theatre that is fashion, Elsa Schiaparelli plays a leading role. Absent from the fashion scene for over 60 years, Schiaparelli continues to inspire designers and by the very fact, many of her clever creations are still familiar to us: the seamstress stockman-shaped perfume bottle, her press clipping prints, signature exotic butterflies that flutter on hundreds of her models, also on hats, buttons, necklaces … And Shocking Pink that no longer shocks since it has been copied by so many others!

Shocking 1 by Christophe Roué

Mostly due to her shoe-shaped hat, with its heel pointed towards the sky, posterity associates Schiaparelli with the Surrealists. Yet this is foregoing a little quickly that, in her case, this influence is closely intertwined with a baroque culture: brought up in Rome where her family lived in the Corsini palazzo, Schiaparelli is the heiress of these Italian artists whose fantasy she imposed in France. Indeed her destiny awaited her in Paris. A destiny she encountered almost by happenstance having accompanied a friend visiting Paul Poiret, the famous couturier encouraged her and decided of her future. In 1927, Schiaparelli presented her first line of knits that announced sportswear, but it was not until 1930 that her style evolved towards a conquering and evanescent femininity that were to become her signature brand image.

E.Schiaparelli and Dali (DR)Schiaparelli and Dali

In the 30’s, Haute Couture invented itself. Considered until then as suppliers, couturiers escaped and became the gods of an Olympus of clothing with evanescent shores. Not only did Schiaparelli quickly make a name for herself in this Olympus, she was given a nickname: Schiap!

To the tomboy running out of steam, she opposed a poetic and amusing elegance. A woman of fantasy that never ran out of ideas: hand- painted lobsters on chiffon muslin, the first zipper to be used as a fashion accessory, telescopic, spiral or ice cream cone hats, a feather hat simulating a sleeping chicken, bird cage hats…looking more attentively at Schiaparelli’s models, their line is fluid, naturally flowing over a woman’s body that it respects… The waist is in the right place, the bosom beautifully defined and the length of the skirts precisely as it should be.

Sketch 2-Schiaparelli - bd

With her infallible flair, Chanel immediately pinpointed her rival. She loathed Schiaparelli and the feeling was mutual. Indeed, Mademoiselle was quite annoyed that a foreigner might be trampling her turf. And, as if that wasn’t enough, just around the corner from her territory, in the shadow of the Vendôme column where Schiaparelli first set up shop in 1934 and took Paris by storm. Schiaparelli signed her most impressive collections between 1935 and 1940. Real fireworks. A suite of improvisations on a theme that she showcases and pushes to its ultimate limits: the circus theme, Commedia dell’ arte, butterflies, astrology, a beetle line, a pagan collection, inspired by Botticelli and the Birth of Venus.

It’s always easy to analyze a situation in the light of the final result, but how can one not make the correlation between the stormy electricity that preceded war and the sputtering of Schiaparelli’s genius at the same time?

SCHIAPARELLI - by Teddy Piaz (DR) - bdElsa Schiaparelli

It should be pointed out in passing that she was never more at ease than during the bustle that occurs before the presentation of a collection. She revels in creating under the gun, to come up with last minute solutions, to resolve insurmountable problems with one snip of her scissors featuring the same untamable and free audacity that is the very quintessence of Haute Couture.

LoL, Sandra

Photos: Courtesy of Schiaparelli

Schiaparelli-Prada: Impossible Conversations


Yesterday, the ‘Schiaparelli & Prada: Impossible Conversations’ exhibition has been unveiled during a dedicated press conference at the Costume Institute’s The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
The exhibition will be open to the public from May 10 to August 19, 2012.

Schiaparelli & Prada exhibition _MET_IMG_0034

The Met’s Spring 2012 Costume Institute exhibition explores the striking affinities between Elsa Schiaparelli and Miuccia Prada, two Italian designers from different eras. Inspired by Miguel Covarrubias’s “Impossible Interviews” for Vanity Fair in the 1930s, the exhibition features orchestrated conversations between these iconic women to suggest new readings of their most innovative work.

Schiaparelli & Prada exhibition _MET_IMG_8956

Iconic ensembles are presented with videos of simulated conversations between Schiaparelli and Prada directed by Baz Luhrmann, focusing on how both women explore similar themes in their work through very different approaches.

Schiaparelli & Prada exhibition _MET_IMG_9028

The exhibition showcases approximately ninety designs and thirty accessories by Schiaparelli (1890–1973) from the late 1920s to the early 1950s and by Prada from the late 1980s to the present. Drawn from The Costume Institute’s collection and the Prada Archive, as well as other institutions and private collections, signature objects by both designers are arranged in seven themed galleries: “Waist Up/Waist Down,” “Ugly Chic,” “Hard Chic,” “Naïf Chic,” “The Classical Body,” “The Exotic Body,” and “The Surreal Body.”

Schiaparelli & Prada exhibition _MET_IMG_9913

Schiaparelli & Prada exhibition _MET_IMG_8969

Schiaparelli, who worked in Paris from the 1920s until her house closed in 1954, was closely associated with the Surrealist movement and created such iconic pieces as the “Tear” dress, the “Shoe” hat, and the “Bug” necklace. Prada, who holds a degree in political science, took over her family’s Milan-based business in 1978, and focuses on fashion that reflects the eclectic nature of Postmodernism.

LoL, Sandra

Photos: Courtesy of the The Metropolitan Museum of Art and Prada