Thursday, April 27, 2006

The Rag Trade …

Yesterday, I was booked by a well-known television broadcaster to work on a documentary entitled ‘Haute Couture’. It follows the course set by a number of fashion houses and their designers from the 1930‘s until today.

We were to interview Hubert de Givenchy, the man himself, and John Galliano, currently top designer at Dior. The day had only just begun when one of Galliano’s minions rang to say that “John has cancelled his diary for today and would be not available for interview”. There followed much swearing by the producer who had come in from London especially for it.

As we were soon to learn, this is not the first time that ‘Dear John’ has done this. In fact, this is the 4th time that both he and his bosses at Doir had agreed to the interview and the 4th time he had cancelled on the day.

Still, we had one interview to conduct - Hubert de Givenchy.

De Givenchy was born into a wealthy family, in the northern French town of Beauvais in 1927. Impressed by the 1937 World's Fair in the French capital, the young de Givenchy decided he wanted to work "somewhere in fashion design". After studying at the École des Beaux Arts in Paris, he went on to work for some of the big names of the time.

In 1952, Givenchy opened his own design house at the Plaine Monceau in Paris. At 25, he was the youngest designer of the progressive Paris fashion scene. His first collections were characterized by the use of rather more cheap fabrics for financial reasons, but they always piqued curiosity through their design.

A year later, he was introduced to Audrey Hepburn, he went on to design her wardrobe for the film 'Sabrina', 'Funny Face', 'Breakfast At Tiffany's' and many more. De Givenchy also developed his first perfume collection for her named ‘Interdit’, which is still available today. His other famous clients included Grace Kelly and Jackie Kennedy.

He finally retreated from fashion design in 1995.

The interview was superb and we were all captivated by his stories. As those who know me will confirm, I do not suffer fools easily and anything to do the fashion industry normally brings me out in a rash, but this chap was a real Gentleman - in the true sense of the word. He smiled, laughed and was terribly modest. A fascinating life-story, straight from the horse’s mouth ... and he drove himself to and from the interview in an old Mercedes.

As for Galliano who doesn’t ‘do’ anything before 1pm … temperamentally unavailable.

Stu

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