It was such a sad moment when I heard that the legendary fashion designer Hubert de Givenchy has passed away aged 91. His full name was Count Hubert James Marcel Taffin de Givenchy and he founded the house of Givenchy in 1952, and the fashion world changed due to his wonderful talent.
The designer has long been associated with the actress Audrey Hepburn who was a lifelong client and who famously said, “Givenchy’s clothes are the only ones I feel myself in. He is more than a designer, he is a creator of personality.” Indeed, the pair were so close that the actress had a clause written into her contract that only Givenchy could dress her for her movies. I love that connection as I greatly admire Audrey Hepburn and her elegant, timeless style.
What I wanted to share today was not a biography on the life of the talented Hubert de Givenchy (as many online have already done it far better than I could), but rather his connection to Ireland. More specifically his connection to Newbridge Silverware. I am sure that many of you have visited Newbridge Silverware’s ‘The Museum of Style Icons’, which is a lovely day out in itself.
The start of the journey and relationship between Newbridge Silverwear and Givenchy is actually quite interesting. So in December 2006, William Doyle, who is CEO of Newbridge Silverware went to an auction at Christie’s in London. He was hoping that he could purchase some of Audrey Hepburn’s most iconic and magical movie costumes/outfits. One of the most famous dresses in movie and fashion history was for sale, the floor-length sleeveless, black Givenchy dress worn by Audrey Hepburn as ‘Holly Golightly’ in ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’.
William Doyle got into a bidding war but was outbid by an anonymous French telephone bidder. It later transpired that the anonymous bidder turned out to be Givenchy himself who wanted the dress – at any cost. Givenchy paid a staggering €607,000 for the dress as he understood very well the historical importance of the piece itself.
On that day, however, William Doyle did not go home empty-handed and purchased a black evening dress which was made for Hepburn for the movie, ‘Charade’. This garment was the first piece in the Museum of Style Icons and started the complete collection.
From there, the team at Newbridge Silverwear expanded the collection and purchased more Givenchy pieces including the iconic yellow floral dress Audrey Hepburn wore in the movie ‘Funny Face’ in 1957. The Givenchy collection at the Museum of Style Icons now boasts seven amazing items and is regarded as one of the greatest collections of Givenchy garments in the world. Which I think you will agree is pretty amazing.
After that memorable auction in Christie’s, Givenchy enquired who the under bidder was for the little black Audrey dress and learnt it was William Doyle. The pair developed a fashion friendship and when Givenchy was holding his 2016 fashion exhibition ‘To Audrey with Love’ at The Hague he knew just where to go to borrow some pieces. Newbridge Silverware loaned Givenchy three key garments for his exhibition, the yellow beautifully cut floral dress from the movie ‘Funny Face’, the mustard coloured coat from Audrey’s 1963 film ‘Charade’ and a green two-piece suit worn by Grace Kelly in 1961 on her state visit to Ireland, as well as her visit to the White House in the same year. It was at that event that they both met in person. I just love the story of this fashion relationship between the two gentlemen.
If you are in Kildare I would highly recommend visiting The Museum of Style Icons, I have been twice and loved it both times. For more information on the museum etc. you can check out www.newbridgesilverware.com or call (045) 431301.
RIP Mr. Givenchy.
Images of Newbridge Silver kindly provided for use by O’Brien PR. Image of sewing machine – free use from Unsplash.