HUBERT DE GIVENCHY
DEFINING THE FASHION ESTHETIC
Byline: Bernadine Taub, March 1958
Hubert de Givenchy disclosed in an interview in New York this week that he considers himself something of a classicist, but a classicist working in the modern genre.
The designer determines the shape, says Givenchy, not the figure of the wearer. She in turn is free to express herself through her movements and her carriage, within the confines of a well-constructed outfit.
Just what this shape will be is not limited by what has gone before, what the figure looks like or on what occasion the suit, dress or coat will be worn. This designer, who has won a reputation as an iconoclast, claims he never considers “whether the skirt is wide enough to walk in, how the wearer will look getting in or out of a taxi” when he prepares a collection.
Nevertheless, he compares the precision involved in constructing a dress to the stringency of the mathematics in a composition by Bach.
“I consider the beauty and artistic value of a fashion, not its utility,” he explains.
Today, he feels that construction is as important a part of a dress as it is of a boat or a building. He likes to speak of the “architecture of a dress.” All parts of it must hold together properly, especially in rapid movement. Nothing is left to chance. Even the drapery, which seems to fall free, is actually planned and cut to fall a certain way.
“This concept differs from the celebrated bias cuts of Vionnet, which took their shape from the figure and movements of the wearer, not the dynamic, active woman of today,” he observes. “Take the principle of the bias cuts of the 1930s, but use them in a new manner that reflects the 1950s.”