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Sep 27, 2023

What did Audrey Hepburn and Travis Scott have in common? Givenchy

Givenchy x Travis Scott in the works? There was a lot of buzz around this question this summer after La Flame was spotted wearing a custom Givenchy outfit inspired by his new record, Utopia, during a performance at E11EVEN Miami nightclub. 

Apart from the hype, this affair confirmed what everyone in the industry already knew: the new creative director of the fashion house established by Hubert de Givenchy, Matthew M. Williams, has a strong connection to the music system and its stars. The link between the street-soul designer and the house’s haute couture-loving founder is precisely the word ‘star’, associated with Givenchy since a 1952 New York Times headline featuring Audrey Hepburn. If you’re curious, here are six things you should know about Givenchy from its early days to the present.

Givenchy's creative directow, Matthew M. Williams, posing with rapper Travis Scott


  1. A star is born 

Hubert de Givenchy was only 17 when he left Beauvais, where he was born, to move to Paris and study drawing at the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts. Always passionate about fashion, he made his debut with Jacques Fath and then worked alongside Pierre Balmain, Christian Dior and Elsa Schiaparelli.

“A star is born”, read the New York Times in 1952, when monsieur de Givenchy, then 25, opened his Maison and launched his first Spring/Summer 1952 collection, which was met with immediate success. 

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Monsieur de Givenchy opened his maison at a mere 25 years old

It introduced the concept of coordinated garments, famously known as “Separates”, which included fancy blouses and matching gabardine skirts. The designer’s Bettina blouse, named after one of his muses, Bettina Graziani, also became an iconic piece. Clean lines, simple materials and a departure from the lavish style of the time marked the beginning of a career that spanned more than 40 years.


  1. From “Sabrina” to Hollywood

The next year, Hubert de Givenchy had a fateful and much-loved encounter with Audrey Hepburn. He referred to it as a ‘platonic love’ that began in fashion and continued in real life. This meeting marked the start of both their careers, as Givenchy went on to design some of the most iconic dresses in cinema history.

It all started when a young Audrey insisted on personally choosing the costumes for the classic 1954 film Sabrina. Cristóbal Balenciaga was too busy to attend to her, so he sent her to a young emerging tailor named Hubert de Givenchy. For her, Givenchy created the white embroidered organza dress with a princess silhouette, the two-piece wool jacket with a double-breasted collar and the black cocktail dress that was tight on the waist and wide in the skirt, closing at the shoulders.

Audrey Hepburn on the set of Sabrina, in 1954, wearing a black Givenchy dress

However, the most memorable dress was her black sheath dress in the movie ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’. The black silk dress left the shoulders and back uncovered, enough to allow the strands of pearls to play their game. Paired with long black gloves and large brown glasses, it made the scene of Holly Golightly eating a croissant in front of Tiffany’s New York windows unforgettable.

Hubert de Givenchy was among the first to recognise the potential of dressing movie stars and turning them into ambassadors. After designing for Audrey Hepburn, he continued to create dresses for several influential women, including the Duchess of Windsor, Grace Kelly, Countess Mona von Bismarck, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Marlene Dietrich, Ingrid Bergman and Greta Garbo and many others.

An iconic look: Audrey Hepburn wearing Givenchy as Holly Golightly for Breakfast at Tiffany's 
  1. A great Maison, many “hands”

Known for his feminine and timeless garments, Hubert de Givenchy expanded his line to include men’s clothing in 1969 and furnishing fabrics the following year. In 1988, Givenchy was sold to the French luxury goods group LVMH.

His successors were John Galliano, followed by Alexander McQueen and Julien Macdonald, who deviated from the House’s traditional style.

In 2005, the Italian designer Riccardo Tisci was appointed as the creative director and brought a simple, linear style with his spring/summer 2006 collection. He presented a series of transparent white shirts and blouses with bows, eliminating any excess and extravagance of his predecessors. 

Riccardo Tisci's style evolved throughout his 12 year career at Givenchy: his last collections were rich in decorations and prints

Tisci’s style later underwent a transformation, shifting from minimalist designs to ones rich in decorations, necklines, leopard prints, lace and fuchsia sequin masks. He revived the brand with men’s and women’s collections by introducing luxurious streetwear with a romantic and sensual touch. His muses were Kim Kardashian, whom he dressed for her wedding to Kanye West, and Lea T, a transgender model.  

After 12 years, Tisci left the fashion house in 2017. He was succeeded by Clare Waight Keller, the first woman to hold the position of artistic director for both men’s and women’s collections at Givenchy. She designed Meghan Markle’s wedding dress for her wedding to Prince Harry in May 2018. In March of the same year, Monsieur Hubert passed away.


  1. Between Lady Gaga and the Metaverse

Matthew M. Williams, a young American designer and founder of the label 1017 ALYX 9SM, assumed the role of creative director in June 2020.

He grew up in Pismo Beach, California, and later moved to Los Angeles. He did not formally study fashion, as he was rejected from the Parsons School of Design in New York. He learned everything he knows by perusing fashion magazines at Little Tokyo newsstands in L.A.

Matthew M. Williams has been Givenchy's creative director since June 2020

The turning point was meeting Lady Gaga at a restaurant. The two had an affair, and Matthew started designing her costumes. At 23, he began collaborating with legendary photographers, famous costume designers in L.A., and designer brands. He also collaborated with Kanye West and was involved in Been Trill, a streetwear brand, alongside Virgil Abloh and Heron Preston.

From 2021, the brand’s fashion shows have been graced by a designer whose signature style can be defined by the word ‘contrast’. “I wanted to build on the tradition of Givenchy’s story but also really look to the future,” the designer said in an interview. His collections combine Californian extravagance and coolness through transparencies, dark tech fabrics and chains with the everyday elegance of Paris, reflected in the use of sequins, feathers and laminated fabrics.

William's Givenchy can be defined in a single word: contrast. His collections combine features from his hometown of California with Parisian elegance

On the one hand, he celebrates the timeless philosophy of Hubert de Givenchy with black dresses and train tracks; on the other, he shows a more personal touch that could be described as punk and urban. Heaviness and lightness. Formal and informal. Traditional and future. France and America.


  1. Fading to black

His collections always feature black but also a splash of colour, such as green, yellow, sky blue or lilac, to add some joy. At the latest Spring/Summer 2023 fashion show, held at the Jardin des Plantes in Paris, the designer went back to the fashion trends of the 2000s, with baggy shorts, denim, over jackets and long silk dresses, leather brassières and evening dresses with incorporated gloves.

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At the latest S/S fashion show, which took place at the Jardin des Plantes in Paris, Williams revisited Y2K trends

On the runway, a conversation takes place between three generations: the 2000s, the current one – through the eyes and hands of Williams – and the one represented by Hubert de Givenchy. This super minimal and essential collection emphasises the link between utility and luxury and, unlike the previous collections, there is no lack of colours, although black still takes centre stage. 

The latest advertising campaign created by Williams and shot by Heji Shin shows Gigi Hadid, Selena Forrest and Luna Passos wearing key looks from the collection. It presents Voyou, the new everyday must-have bag, and the brand’s official website reads: “In line with the Givenchy Spring Summer 2023 fashion show, the global advertising campaign continues to explore the tensions and contrasts between the House’s iconic sartorial heritage and the urban ease that Matthew M. Williams has introduced into the brand’s aesthetic”.

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Gigi Hadid posing with the Voyou bag in mint green for the women's ss23 campaign

Since 2022, the Maison has also debuted in Roblox and thus joined the Metaverse with a Beauty House that offers its avatars hilarious experiences.


  1. A star still shining 

The New York Times was right about Givenchy; after more than seventy years from the article that announced the birth of a new star, the brand continues to shine and still stands for irreverent elegance, remaining one of the most iconic brands in the fashion industry, with boutiques around the world.

Despite the passing of time, the Givenchy woman has been able to modernise, retaining elegance and refinement, bold but still traditional, from Audrey Hepburn in a black sheath dress in New York to Bella Hadid in a co-ord denim set in Paris. Beautiful, diverse and seductive women. 

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The Givenchy woman continues to evolve year after year

The key to Givenchy’s success is Preserving Hubert’s heritage and timeless philosophy while weaving it together with today’s reality and trends. This is what sets great contemporary designers apart: the ability to connect the past with the present.



Benedetta Bonvini
MA in Fashion Promotion Communication & Digital Media, Milan