Monday, February 6, 2012

Spotlight: Givenchy—Past, Present and Future

Hubert de Givenchy in New York, 1970. Photo from
If you love Audrey Hepburn, you love this guy too. In my mind he is the King of the Little Black Dress. And he’s so handsome!

One of the great reasons to visit the show Fashion, A-Z: Highlights from the Collection of the Museum at FIT, Part One is the opportunity to see the vision of different designers within the same house over the span of several decades.

Under “G” for Givenchy, you will find a wonderful black beaded 1968 dress from founding couturier Hubert de Givenchy, as well as two pieces by men who have succeeded him since his retirement in 1995—Alexander McQueen, who was head designer from 1996-2001, and current creative director Riccardo Tisci, who was appointed in 2005.

A side view of the dress. The placard that accompanies it is below.

A Fall 1997 coatdress by Alexander McQueen for Givenchy.

There was a lovely quote by Alexander McQueen at his retrospective last year at the Met about his time at Givenchy:

“Working in the atelier at Givenchy was fundamental to my career…Because I was a tailor, I didn’t totally understand softness, or lightness. I learned lightness at Givenchy. I was a tailor at Savile Row. At Givenchy I learned to soften. For me, it was an education. As a designer I could have left it behind. But working at Givenchy helped me learn my craft.”

You can see some of the softness in the beyond gorgeous black wool and silk coatdress from McQueen’s time at Givenchy. The tailoring is there, but so is the addition of the golden embroidery depicting the kind of scene you might find on an ornate folding screen from China or Japan.

A Spring 2011 black leather and chiffon dress by Riccardo Tisci for Givenchy.

As for Tisci, I don’t always love his designs, they sometimes strike me as overwrought, but I find this leather and chiffon ensemble sexy and dark and it would look fantastic on the right person.

I’m fascinated with the pleating of the leather and the addition of chiffon to this bodice. Both tough and soft, literally!

Look at the leather straps winding around the torso. I think maybe three people in the entire world could wear this and look great in it and Angelina Jolie is one of them.

Givenchy, for those of you who don’t know, is still an haute couture atelier (and there aren’t many of them since the rules set up by the Chambre Syndicale de la Couture Parisienne are quite strict), Hubert is now 84 (wish him happy birthday on February 21), and the house he founded in 1952 is owned by luxury conglomerate LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton.

Fashion, A-Z: Highlights from the Collection of the Museum at FIT, Part One is on view until May 8, 2012.

The Museum at FIT
Seventh Avenue and 27th Street
New York NY 10001-5992
Hours: Tuesday-Friday: Noon-8PM
Saturday: 10AM-5PM
Closed Sundays, Mondays, and legal holidays
Admission is free


Pam @ over50feeling40 said...

The first dress is exquisite and I really the liked the quote from McQueen about learning lightness..there is so much to learn in order to do this craft well...and I think so many people forget that! Thanks, Jill!!

Do you like the book you are reading...I might want to order it, but wondered what you thought??

jill815 said...

Hi Pam, I really do like 'I Love Your Style' even though it took me awhile to get to it. I think it sat on my bookshelf for a year. I plan on doing a review of it this month! XO, Jill

lisa said...

What a great post. It's so interesting to watch a design house over time, to see if the successors can preserve the aura of the original design vision while keeping the look contemporary. Thanks for sharing!!

sacramento said...

Most interesting post, my dear Jill.

two birds said...

i love that the pieces are all very specific to the time they were made, yet at the same time, timeless! gorgeous!

Carrie Teal said...

I love this post. I love seeing the exhibit through your eyes.

Anonymous said...

I've never before seen a photo of Givenchy. He IS a handsome man. I like Alexander McQueen's take on the styling he learned from G.

Serene McEntyre said...

OOOOOOO....I LOVE that leather ensemble! You're right! I could so see Angelina Jolie in something like that! I would love to come visit you and go to the FITT museum! What a blast that would be!! Hugs! ~Serene

jill815 said...

Hi Lisa, thanks for stopping by and thank you for sharing this post on Twitter!

I think these three designers couldn't be more different and yet I love that the curators chose these three pieces to represent Givenchy because they do form a cohesive whole. It shows how the brand has evolved over time.

That being said, I would love to know what Hubert thinks about McQueen and Tisci. XO, Jill

jill815 said...

Hi Sacramento, didn't you do a post on wild prints similar to what Tisci has been showing lately? XO, Jill

jill815 said...

Hi Two Birds, I couldn't agree with you more. And every time I see that McQueen coatdress I fall in love with it even more. I wish that was in my closet! XO, Jill

jill815 said...

Hi Carrie, I will be doing more posts on this exhibit, which has a part two to it starting in May. I can hardly wait! XO, Jill

jill815 said...

Hi Terri, I'm so glad that quote from McQueen about what he learned at Givenchy popped out at me during last year's Met exhibit because I instantly remembered it when I saw this exquisite coatdress. There was so much text at the retrospective where McQueen seemed to be almost self-congratulatory, but this one I loved because it was humble and reflective and grateful. It also gave a wonderful insight into different skills a couturier must learn to improve his craft. XO, Jill

jill815 said...

Hiya Serene, I so wish you were here with me to attend the preview of the next FIT exhibit. We would have a great time! XO, Jill

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