This large and impressive Givenchy brooch is from the 1970s. The brooch is made of metal and glass and is all about texture. The metal rim has what appears to be a series of embossed links and then there is an inner ring of violet glass and in the centre smoky grey faceted glass. The overall effect is one of subtlety and restraint even though the brooch itself is 8cm (3in) wide. The back is clearly marked with the iconic interlocking ‘Gs’. This brooch might not at first glance be an obvious Givenchy design, their designs are more commonly associated with gold button shapes with artificial pearls. I have another Givenchy brooch which is more traditional in form – large pearls and a gold rim, but I actually prefer this more subtle brooch. It looks rather good on a plain jumper in the winter.
Hubert de Givenchy was born in 1927 into a French aristocratic family, he was the younger son of the Marquis de Givenchy. At the age of 17 he moved to Paris to pursue a career in fashion. He worked at Christian Dior and the avant-garde designer Elsa Schiaparelli, famous for her ‘Shoe’ hat and ‘Lobster’ dress. In 1952 Hubert founded his own fashion house, Givenchy and launched his fist collection which he named ‘Bettina Graziani’ after one of Paris’s top models of the time. It was a series of floaty skirts and puffy blouses. Vogue described it as “a wonderful first collection”. Jewellery was added to the House of Givenchy range in the 1970s, along with other accessories including shoes. Today jewellery is still designed and sold but sadly no brooches.
Hubert de Givenchy had many famous clients but one of his favourites was the actress, Audrey Hepburn. In the film ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s she wears an iconic black dress designed by Givenchy. This ‘Little Black Dress’ has been imitated many times, but the original from the film was sold in London in 2006 for a staggering $923,187.
Another famous client was Jackie Kennedy, as the wife of the US president she was expected to patronise American designers. But whenever the first lady visited Paris, she would order a dozen or so outfits from Givenchy. The story goes that on one occasion General de Gaulle complimented Jackie on what she was wearing, a Givenchy dress. She sent a note to Hubert de Givenchy saying, “The general said to me, ‘Madame, this afternoon you look like a real Parisian.’ And in 1963 for John F. Kennedy’s funeral Jackie wore a black Givenchy suit.
In 1995 Hubert retired from Givenchy.
In January 2007, the French Post Office issued a Valentine’s Day postage stamp designed by Hubert de Givenchy.
Hubert de Givenchy died in Paris in 2018 at the age of 91.