The letter of Hubert de Givenchy
In a letter written shortly before his death, Hubert de Givenchy recalls the milestones in his life as a couturier: the houses that first believed in him, the move to open an atelier in his own name, and his encounters with Audrey Hepburn and Jackie Kennedy, both true muses for him. He evokes the birth of a style, the modernity of the “separates” concept and the origin of Parfums Givenchy. And he pays homage to those who accompanied him at Givenchy over the years.
HUBERT DE GIVENCHY
"I began working at Jacques Fath at the age of seventeen. During the six years that followed, I had the pleasure of working with Robert Piguet, and then with Lelong and Madame Schiaparelli for four years. My wish, however, was to have my own brand. I wasn’t attempting to compete with other major creators, but to fashion a style that we called at the time “Separates,”a new concept that was more modern and current in my opinion.
We were a small team, competent and friendly. Bettina Graziani, Philippe Venet and the most beautiful models of the era, Sophie Litvak, lvy Nicholson, Suzy Parker...
The press was pleasantly surprised. The only critique was a misunderstanding of my idea of “Separates.”
Jackie Kennedy became the first lady of the United States. She trusted me and asked me to dress her. The fact that Mrs. Kennedy chose the brand for her wardrobe garnered much media attention and Mrs. Kennedy’s image helped us tremendously with the press.
At around the same time, I met another celebrity who would become a very close friend and a major star: Audrey Hepburn. She too asked me to dress her for her films, starting with Sabrina, Love in the Afternoon, Funny Face...
The Fragrance business we decided to create had just started and I thought that associating Audrey’s image with a perfume would be very innovative. That was indeed the case. L’interdit was thus created. L’interdit is still associated with Audrey’s image today.
The couture maison, which was becoming more and more prominent, needed to find a location capable of accommodating the numerous orders we were receiving. The Maison left rue Alfred de Vigny and moved to avenue George V where it is still located to this day.
Licensing agreements were signed across the United States, Japan and a number of other countries, opening many ready-to-wear stores. Rome, Geneva, Lausanne, London, Tokyo, Osaka, New York, Dallas...
Mr. Balenciaga, who I endlessly admired and had the pleasure of meeting in the United States, became a very close friend. He referred some of the staff of his atelier to me to help strengthen our Maison’s technique.
When the Maison Balenciaga closed its doors, many of its clients lent me their trust and came to be dressed by the Maison.
After 42 years, all of these wonderful years with an extraordinary team surrounding me, I left avenue George V."
The Wedding dress
The dress epitomizes a timeless minimal elegance referencing the codes of the iconic House of Givenchy and showcasing the expert craftsmanship of its world-renowned Parisian Haute Couture atelier founded in 1952. True to the heritage of the house, the pure lines of the dress are achieved using six meticulously placed seams. The focus of the dress is the graphic open bateau neckline that gracefully frames the shoulders and emphasizes the slender sculpted waist. The lines of the dress extend towards the back where the train flows in soft round folds cushioned by an underskirt in triple silk organza. The slim three quarter sleeves add a note of refined modernity.
Ms. Markle expressed the wish of having all 53 countries of the Commonwealth with her on her journey through the ceremony. Ms. Waight Keller designed a veil representing the distinctive flora of each Commonwealth country united in one spectacular floral composition. The veil is five meters long and made from silk tulle with a trim of hand-embroidered flowers in silk threads and organza. Each flower was worked flat, in three dimensions to create a unique and delicate design. The workers spent hundreds of hours meticulously sewing and washing their hands every thirty minutes to keep the tulle and threads pristine. In addition to the flora of the Commonwealth, Ms. Markle also selected two personal favorites. Symmetrically placed at the very front of the veil, crops of wheat are delicately embroidered and blend into the flora, to symbolize love and charity.
The wedding shoes
The wedding shoes are based on the Givenchy refined pointed SS18 Haute Couture design made of a silk duchess satin.
The Bridesmaids’ dresses
Clare Waight Keller also designed the six young Bridesmaids’ dresses, hand crafted in the Givenchy Haute Couture Atelier in Paris. The dresses were designed to have the same timeless purity as Ms. Markle's dress. Each dress is sculpted in Ivory silk radzimir, and is high-waisted with short puff sleeves and hand finished with a double silk ribbon detail tied at the back in a bow. The Bridesmaids’ dresses include pockets and pleated skirts to create a relaxed and luxurious silhouette.