Givenchy on Film
French fashion designer Hubert de Givenchy and Audrey Hepburn created an image of timeless glamour onscreen. This glamour has now permeated every facet of our lives and has become the epitome of class. I can still remember buying my first pair of Givenchy silk stockings and feeling oh so glamorous and chic, hoping a little bit of his stardust would rub off on me!
Givenchy was born into the French aristocracy, but decided to follow in his maternal footsteps into the world of design. He designed under some of the top designers of the 1940’s, including Lucien Lelong and Christian Dior. Givenchy opened his own fashion house in 1952 and met Hepburn in 1953 when he was asked to design the French wardrobe for her character in Sabrina. Sadly his work goes uncredited in the film, as Edith Head took designer credit, even winning an Oscar for Best Costume design. Some people stress that the costumes were actually made in Head’s wardrobe department at Paramount, so that technically gives her credit, but I don’t think so. Apparently Hepburn didn’t think so either and had him design all her costumes and her personal wardrobe from here on out. Head must have learned from this, because she took co-designing credit with Givenchy in 1957 for Funny Face and they were nominated for an Oscar.
Looking through their joint filmography one can seen definite threads that link their major films together. Starting with Sabrina we begin to see the quintessential “little black dress” emerge, even though at the time the neckline of the dress was all that was noted upon. In Funny Face and most certainly with Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961) the concept and acceptance of the “little black dress” reached perfection. The sense of fashion that Givenchy created for Hepburn, he also created for us and our everyday lives. He created modern fashion. He showed us what and how to wear evening clothes, and the same is true for daywear. We can visualize our wardrobe choices based on his and Hepburn’s stellar teachings and this is something we all try to attain on a daily basis.