Givenchy is one of the most recognizable names in the fashion industry and is now considered to be a fashion institution in its own right. Robert Givenchy was born in February 21, 1927 in Beauvais, Oise and lived in a family that was highly influenced by fashion as well. He is from a long line of clothing designers, both of his great grandmothers having designed for famous fashion houses in France and made costumes for the Paris Opera.
The young Robert Givenchy first found his spark for fashion during the World Fair in Paris in 1937. He then studied in the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris and did his first design work for Jacques Fath in 1945. Up until the 1950’s, young Robert worked under some of fashion’s most notable designers from Christian Dior, Pierre Balmain and Elsa Schiaparelli.
In 1952, Robert Givenchy was finally able to open up his very own fashion house in Paris, named as the House of Givenchy. The store was situated just right across the Balenciaga fashion house. During his first collection, Robert Givenchy was forced to use the cheapest material that he could find (which was mostly white shirt material). But nonetheless, his genius and passion in design placed his first ever collection into fashion news.
Compared to the more conservative designs and designers that he was exposed to during his years of internship, Robert Givenchy is now most well known for his innovative and daring works of art. During his first years in the business, he tended to use cheaper fabric and material due to financial constraints. But nonetheless, his work never went out unnoticed for their edgy, modern and ingenious designs. His designs and taste were largely influenced by one of his fashion icons, Balenciaga. Most of his designs he viewed only from numerous Vogue magazines he collected during his younger years.
One of the most famous names that were deeply attached to Robert Givenchy’s work was actress Aubrey Hepburn. The designer and the actress first met during the shoot of “Sabrina” in 1953 and since then, Givenchy was the sole designer of all wardrobes worn in her movies. Fashion experts say that Hepburn was the epitome of the Robert Givenchy fashion signature: feminine, poised but strong. Aside from that, he also designed for one of the most famous presidential families, the Kennedys.
In the 60’s, the house of Givenchy brought into the stage the “Bag dress”, which was considered to be the defining fashion piece for that decade. And as the times changed, Givenchy’s work was also able to seamlessly flow with the changing hemlines and designs. In 1973, the designer decided to release its very first men’s line and from then on, ventured into various products such as accessories and fragrances.
Today, the fashion house designs both man and women’s apparels and is being patronized by many top celebrities and personalities all around the globe. In 1995, the then 68 year old Givenchy decided to retire from fashion designing and appointed John Galliano as the next head to his fashion house.