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Sometimes a couple just knows. They know they were meant to be. Sometimes that means marriage, sometimes office marriage, sometimes soulmates and occasionally all three. Audrey Hepburn and Hubert de Givenchy were not destined to be lovers or spouses but there’s was much more than an “office wife” type relationship. More than co-mentors. Soulmates. Artistic soulmates. But which was the artist and which the muse? It’s so hard to tell, isn’t it?
One day a young woman, not at all dressed to visit a couturier, wandered into Hubert DeGivenchy’s atelier and by nightfall she had won his heart–forever. It was the same for her. While she was looking for clothes to wear in a new movie, he had been under the impression his appointment was with the other Miss Hepburn–Miss Katharine Hepburn. Later Audrey would say,
I think any woman dresses mostly for the man in her life.
(Hellstern, p. 147)
But did she mean her husband of the time? Or did she mean Hubert de Givenchy–the man who devoted his life to dressing he, the man who created her? The man who gave her confidence?
His are the only clothes in which I am myself. He is far more than a couturier, he is a creator of personality….
[quoted in Vogue, 11 November 2011]
“I depend on Givenchy in the same way that American women depend on their psychiatrists. There are few people I love more.”
(Hellstern, p. 113)
Recently, de Givenchy produced a book in which he described his relationship with Audrey as “a kind of marriage.” To Audrey With Love, by Hubert de Givenchy
A life-long love affair of the soul would be another way to put it. Imagine having a man who dressed you? Who saw you as his own artistic creation–his vision. Now imagine that his taste was beyond reproach and that you shared his sense of style, his taste? Can you even breathe now?
Imagine, too, that before this man and his vision you had little confidence, but that his clothes gave you the courage you needed to be you. (Hellstern, p. 41). Swoon. Yes, swoon–right there on the chaise luonge. Then picture every woman in the 1950s falling in love with your style. Your. Style. Wanting to look just like you. Imagine that, 60+ years later you’d still be called a “style icon” because of this soulmate’s creations. And, then you could dissolve into laughter because, in spite of this dream man, you lived in perfectly tailored slacks and sweaters!
Like many young women in the 1950s and beyond, Audrey went by “fake it till you make it” in a sense. She’d trained as a ballerina–not an actress, so she faked it and made it. Once she found Hubert she didn’t have to fake it–he’d made it for her and she loved the life she gained.
Did you know that the magnificent clothes Audrey wore in Sabrina (my favorite of her films) were designed by Givency, but Edith Head received the Oscar for them? Like some “Made in America” items today, Head only assembled them, based on Givency’s designs. Audrey was so angry that she only wanted Hubert to dress her in her other movies.
Here’s my favorite ensemble from the movie
When I saw this outfit as a gauche preteen, I suddenly understood “style.” It may have helped that my mom, who had wanted to study fashion design, was watching with me and told me about Givenchy.
Do you have a favorite Givenchy creation that Audrey wore? Leave me a comment or a link? Meanwhile, if you want to know more about this incredible relationship, here are a few of the sources I looked at for this post. I am a librarian–I cite my sources.
Meanwhile, if you want to know more about this incredible relationship, here are a few of the sources I looked at for this post. I am a librarian–I cite my sources.
Beyfus, D. (2015, July 11). Hubert de Givenchy: My Relationship with Audrey Hepburn was ‘a Kind of a Marriage.’ LINK.
Collins, A.F. (2014, February 3). When Hubert Met Audrey. LINK.
Lane, M. (2012, September 4). Hubert de Givenchy Remembers Audrey Hepburn. LINK.
Roff, C. (2011, November 11). Hubert de Givenchy Biography. LINK.