Givenchy Retrospective Opens for the First Time in Madrid

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A new retrospective exhibit in Madrid is celebrating the life and legacy of Hubert de Givenchy, the 87-year-old French couturier.

The Thyssen-Bornemisza museum’s show includes 95 looks hand-selected by Givenchy and is the first of its scope and kind, unusual given Givenchy’s larger than life imprint on the fashion business.

Long before Beyonce donned Givenchy for the Met Ball or Kim Kardashian walked down the aisle in a gown designed by its current creative director, Riccardo Tisci, there was Audrey Hepburn.

Hubert de Givenchy and Audrey Hepburn were famously first introduced at a 1953 fitting for the film Sabrina; he designed the famous LBD Hepburn wore in 1961’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s, which is on display in the exhibit.

Says Eloy Martínez de la Pera, the show’s curator, seeing the the dress in person has a huge impact. “You can perfectly imagine Audrey Hepburn getting out of the taxi, moving towards the window of Tiffany’s while eating a croissant.”

Givenchy and Hepburn ultimately kindled a lifelong friendship, and Givenchy would continue to shape Hepburn’s gamine, ladylike style. As he once put it, “There is not a woman alive who does not dream of looking like Audrey Hepburn.”

But while he is nostalgic for his friendship with one of the 20th century’s greatest style icons, Givenchy is less optimistic about the current state of fashion as a high art, sniping, “Maybe I’ll shock a lot of people here, but I think that haute couture has come to an end.”

One thing that has endured, of course, is Hepburn’s legacy.

Her granddaughter Emma Ferrer, who recently sat for a Yahoo Style fashion shoot and interview, inherited her quirky beauty and stacks of her cashmere turtlenecks (if not her most sought-after Givenchy finery.)

Ferrer, recalling seeing Hepburn in Sabrina, the film that started one of fashion’s greatest bonds, said, “[My grandmother] has this really warm energy and she’s joyful, happy, and playful.”

Such is the mood of the Givenchy show, on display until January 18, 2015.