O fim da haute couture

Hubert de Givenchy teme pelo futuro da alta costura.


It has been more than half a century since Audrey Hepburn appeared on the cinema screen wearing the famous black dress in Breakfast at Tiffany’s that cemented Hubert de Givenchy’s reputation as one of the world’s great designers.

Yet it was not until Wednesday that the first major retrospective of the French designer’s four-decade career was launched – as a tribute to him and to haute couture, a fashion culture he believes may soon vanish.

The exhibition at Madrid’s Thyssen-Bornemisza museum features 95 pieces and accompanying accessories all chosen by Givenchy. It offers a window into his fixation with elegance and beauty, which earned him a roster of clients including Jackie Kennedy, Grace Kelly and Hepburn.

A woman takes pictures of creations displayed at the exhibition of Hubert de Givenchy's life works.


Wearing a grey suit, a blue shirt with a white collar and sunglasses indoors, Givenchy – who retired in 1995 – said he was initially sceptical about a retrospective.

“Imagine, at this age of mine? I was doubtful,” the 87-year-old said at the launch. “But I have great affection for Spain, so I thought I do not have the right to reject such an extraordinary offer.”

The result was what he called an “homage to those I’ve worked with and to my loyal clients”. His designs sit alongside artworks from the museum’s collection, in an effort to highlight the parallels between fashion and art.

Among those loyal clients, one stands out, said Givenchy, referring to Hepburn, who died aged 63 in 1993.

“Audrey was an exceptional person,” he said of his close friend and muse for decades. The pair met when he designed costumes for Sabrina, a 1954 film. “She was someone who knew how to wear an outfit better than anyone,” he said.

The exhibition, the first major retrospective to be devoted to French fashion designer Hubert de Givenchy, presents a selection of his finest creations.


Givenchy,already had in mind which pieces he wanted to include, said curator Eloy Martínez de la Pera. “For us it was about haute couture. But for him, each piece was linked to a client of his and full of emotional memories.”

Martínez de la Pera said of the black satin sheath dress worn by Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s: “Seeing the piece, you can perfectly imagine Audrey Hepburn getting out of the taxi, moving towards the window of Tiffany’s while eating a croissant.”

The black lace cocktail dress and jacket she wore in How to Steal a Million in 1966 are also on display.

The museum had few problems finding exhibits. “We were overwhelmed,” said Martínez de la Pera. “Hundreds of clients wrote to us, offering us their pieces to include in the exhibition. We had to limit it.”

A woman looks at creations displayed at the exhibition, running from 22 October to 18 January.


Their eagerness, he said, added weight to the feeling the retrospective was long overdue. “He’s the last great master of haute couture in the 20th century. It was an homage that we owed him.”

For Givenchy, what started as a retrospective soon became a chance to show off the heyday of haute couture.

Citing today’s fashion culture, where edginess has taken precedence over elegance, he said: “Maybe I’ll shock a lot of people here, but I think that haute couture has come to an end.”

While there may be streets in Paris that are full of boutiques, he said, “the things they are selling don’t make sense. The times have changed. What will happen, I don’t know.”

He paused before adding: “And I probably won’t be here to find out.”

• The Hubert de Givenchy retrospective at the Thyssen-Bornemisza museum in Madrid runs until 18 January, 2015.







Via The Guardian

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