Count Hubert James Marcel Taffin de Givenchy (born February 20, 1927) is a French aristocrat and fashion designer who founded the The House of Givenchy in 1952. He is famous for having designed much of the personal and professional wardrobe of Audrey Hepburn, as well as clothing for clients such as Jacqueline Kennedy.
The younger son of Lucien Taffin de Givenchy, Marquis de Givenchy, and his wife, the former Béatrice ("Sissi") Badin, Givenchy was born in Beauvais, France. The Taffin family, which traces its roots to Venice, Italy (the original surname was Taffini), had been ennobled in 1713, at which time the head of the family became Marquis de Givenchy.
After his father's death from influenza in 1930, the future fashion designer and his elder brother, Jean-Claude (who inherited the family's marquessate and eventually became the president of Parfums Givenchy), were raised by their mother and maternal grandmother, Marguerite Dieterle Badin, the widow of Jules Badin, an artist who was the director of the historic Gobelins and Beauvais tapestry factories. Artistic professions ran in the extended Badin family. Givenchy's maternal great-grandfather, Jules Dieterle, was a set designer who also created designs for the Beauvais factory, including a set of 13 designs for the Elysée Palace. One of his great-great-grandfathers also designed sets for the Paris Opera.
Impressed by the 1937 World's Fair in Paris, young Givenchy decided he wanted to work "somewhere in fashion design". He studied at the École des Beaux Arts in Paris. His first designs were done for Jacques Fath in 1945, an association that came through family members who knew Fath personally. Later he did designs for Lucien Lelong (1946) — working alongside the still-unknown Pierre Balmain and Christian Dior. From 1947 to 1951 he worked for the avantgarde designer Elsa Schiaparelli.
In 1952, Givenchy opened his own design house at the Plaine Monceau in Paris. Later he named his first collection "Bettina Graziani" for Paris's top model at the time. His style was marked by innovativeness, contrary to the more conservative designs by Dior.
At 25, he was the youngest designer of the progressive Paris fashion scene. His first collections were characterized by the use of rather more cheap fabrics for financial reasons, but they always piqued curiosity through their design.
Audrey Hepburn, later the most prominent proponent of Givenchy's fashion, and Givenchy met in 1953 during the shoot of Sabrina. He went on to design almost all the wardrobe worn by her in her movies. He also developed his first perfume collection for her (L'Interdit and Le de Givenchy). Grace Kelly, Gloria Guinness, Dolores Guinness, Babe Paley, The Duchess of Windsor, Mona von Bismarck and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis were other famous customers of Givenchy's.
In 1968, Givenchy's prêt-à-porter collection debuted; later a men's line was also launched.
The House of Givenchy was split in 1981, with the perfume line going to Veuve Clicquot, while the fashion branch went to the Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy group's portfolio of upscale brands. As of today, Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy owns Parfum Givenchy as well.
Hubert de Givenchy retired from fashion design in 1995. His chosen successor to head the Givenchy label was Dominique Sirop, but Bernard Arnault, head of LVMH, thought Sirop was not well enough known and appointed John Galliano instead. After a brief stint by Galliano, a five year stay from Alexander McQueen and a term from 2001 to 2004 by Julian MacDonald, Givenchy women's ready to wear and haute couture has been headed by Riccardo Tisci since 2005.
Givenchy's nephew, James Taffin de Givenchy, is an American jewelry designer.