Hubert de Givenchy (1927-2018)

I was sad when I heard that Hubert de Givenchy passed away earlier this week.  People who read my blog know that my all-time favourite fragrance is Givenchy III.  From the moment that I smelled it, I loved it.  It did, awhile back, smell a little thin and I started to doubt my love affair with it… but I still go back to it for sophistication.  And if I had to pick just one fragrance as my desert-island fragrance, it would be Givenchy III, hands down.

Givenchy, the fashion house, was founded in 1952 and Parfums Givenchy followed 5 years later.  Hubert de Givenchy’s first fragrance was the perfume that he created for Audrey Hepburn, L’Interdit.  Sadly, today’s version of L’Interdit is a pale comparison of what it used to be but it certainly was fabulous when it was launched.  And when we look at what followed, Givenchy not only knew about good taste and fashion, he knew about great fragrances as well.  However look at this timeline and a subset of Givenchy perfumes.  Do you see what I see?

1952 – Hubert de Givenchy founds the house of Givenchy
1957 – Hubert de Givenchy founds Parfums Givenchy
1957 – L’Interdit, first perfume initially created for Audrey Hepburn
1957 – Le De Givenchy
1959 – Monsieur de Givenchy
1959 – Vétyver
1970 – Givenchy III
1974 – Givenchy Gentleman
1980 – Eau de Givenchy
1984 – Ysatis
1986 – Xeryus
1991 – Amarige
1993 – Insensé, one of the very rare masculine florals of its day
1995 – Hubert de Givenchy retires
1996 – Organza
1999 – Organza Indecence
1999 – Pi
2000 – Hot Couture
2003 – Very Irresistible
2006 – Absolutely Givenchy
2006 – Ange ou Démon
2008 – Absolutely Irresistible
2008 – Play
2009 – Ange ou Démon Le Secret
2010 – Play for Her
2011 – Very Irrésistible Intense
2011 – Dahlia Noir
2014 – Dahlia Divin

Well… I kind of gave you a hint with the bold text.  As soon as Givenchy retired, the vision was retired as well.  Hot Couture is a raspberry-centric perfume… no sophistication there.  And, we see a flurry of flankers… I think there are 5 Very Irresistible flankers today.

I’m not saying that after Givenchy retired the house didn’t create beautiful perfume.  Most of them are very nicely done and if you like them, then fine.  But (and we saw the same thing happen with YSL perfumes when Yves Saint-Laurent retired)… the vision, the bold statement, the sophistication is put aside for profit (I’m guessing here).  Such is life.

Mamie Eisenhower

Mamie Eisenhower in White House – 1953 to 1961

One of my favourite films of all time is Funny Face with Audrey Hepburn. This 1957 film introduced French haute couture to American audiences… and to myself probably on late-night television in the late 60s.  Its impact on North America must have been nothing less than a revolution!  Looking back, the very grandfatherly Dwight D. Eisenhower was in the post-war White House along with Mamie, who was very popular with the American housewife.  She connected with the American people and she dressed appropriately but just imagine… the Eisenhowers were in the White House around the time that Funny Face came to the big screens in the US!  Major culture shock!

And, we can only imagine the impact that Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy had on the American public especially when she wore Givenchy couture.  My mother was a huge fan of Jacqueline and the very first time I saw my mother cry was November 25th, 1963.  I was 7 years old and I had come home for lunch.  I had NEVER seen my mother watch tv in the middle of the day.  And, to see her cry!  I thought to myself… adults cry?  There she was… watching the Kennedy funeral, Jacqueline in a Givenchy suit.

Jacqueline Kennedy

Jacqueline Kennedy in Givenchy suit at John F. Kennedy’s funeral.

If you have 8 minutes to watch this excellent documentary on Hubert de Givenchy and Audrey Hepburn, then it will be worth your while.  And you’ll understand why Givenchy was disappointed when he opened the door and saw Audrey Hepburn there hoping to borrow gowns for her film, Sabrina.  Great piece of Hollywood trivia.


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  1. Anonymous

     /  March 17, 2018

    Moi c’est Eau de Givenchy. J’ai encore la bouteille.

  2. Andrea

     /  March 18, 2018

    Givenchy created such beautiful classics. The video is great to watch too. Thanks!


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