Audrey and george dating
Hubert de Givenchy, the former Paris couturier, looked in at Christie's in London this week to rekindle memories of his beloved client, Audrey Hepburn.
He famously won an Oscar for his designs for her films – but they also set an imprint on his reputation and are the very stuff of the images that summon up her name.
What sparked our meeting last week is Givenchy’s new book entitled To Audrey with Love, a sketchbook of designs for clothes he created for her on and off the screen, and as well those for the other luminaries on his client list, including the Duchess of Windsor, Princess Grace of Monaco and Jackie Kennedy Onassis.
Givenchy, now in his late 80s, remains an immensely elegant figure, his great height (6ft 6ins) lending extra distinction.
As far as his public appearances are concerned, he has been a rare bird to sight since he stood down from his house in 1995.
British Vogue commented in the Sixties: “A Givenchy coat would be most women’s ideal of the perfect way to look in daytime.” For our meeting at Christie's, he was formally dressed in a dark blue suit and necktie and polished black lace-ups – you could say a French gentleman in the classic English mode.
Scion of an old French Protestant family, Givenchy was once known among rougher types as “le grand”.
Famously courteous in demeanour, I am pleased to report that he admired the shades of my frock – a silk print by Etro.
I was curious to know what, after two decades of retirement, made him spring back into creative action.
He has been living at his beautiful 16th-century moated manor house, Le Jonchet in the Touraine, not far from the French capital, and at his house on the Left Bank.
No longer connected to the House of Givenchy, his company, which extended over clothes, fashion accessories, cosmetics and fragrances, was acquired in 1988 by the multi-national luxury goods conglomerate, LVMH. He told me that two years ago, while briefly hospitalised, he turned to his sketch book for therapy.