Count Hubert James Marcel Taffin de Givenchy, born 1927 in Beauvais, passed away on March 10, 2018. He leaves behind a legacy as a designer whose defining moments are not only integral to fashion, but are elements of world history.

Audrey Hepburn changed the representation of women in pop culture in Breakfast at Tiffany’s—while wearing Givenchy. Jacqueline Kennedy accompanied JFK to his campaign announcement, state visit to France, final trip to Dallas and to his funeral—in Givenchy each time. Hubert de Givenchy’s elegant, revolutionary approach to women’s tailoring attracted a legendary client list, which allowed his designs to appear in some of the 20th century’s most defining moments. Yet, while Hubert de Givenchy launched his menswear line, Givenchy Gentleman in 1969 (10 years after the house was founded), the house did not produce a men’s fashion “moment” during his tenure through 1995 that could match the scale and influence of the house’s generation-defining womenswear.

Perhaps it would be foolish to expect him to. Givenchy, like his contemporary Christian Dior, was a die-hard devotee of Cristóbal Balenciaga; he was quoted as saying “Since I'm a believer, for me there's Balenciaga and the good Lord.” And, like Balenciaga, De Givenchy envisioned his house as being of women’s couture first, all else second.

But the ongoing memorials to Givenchy (the man) are incomplete without recognition of what Givenchy (the house) brought to menswear. He may not have produced a powerful, iconic male equivalent to Givenchy women such as Jackie or Audrey, but the brand has brought us no shortage of innovation in menswear—both in the business of making it and in the business of selling it. These innovations laid the framework for Givenchy’s later menswear successes, and left an astonishing amount of impact on the industry at large.
Much of how men buy and wear fashion today stems from decisions made while Hubert helmed the legendary brand.

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