Givenchy classics bid Paris adieu

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The Independent Online
TAMSIN BLANCHARD

Paris

Hubert de Givenchy, the 68-year-old couturier who opened the House of Givenchy in 1952, bade his final goodbye yesterday with a collection of the classic pieces that have earned him a loyal following over the years.

Last July, there were tears on the catwalk and in the audience when one of the last great gentlemen of old school Paris couture received a standing ovation for his last haute couture collection. Yesterday, the atmosphere at the ready-to-wear collection for spring-summer '96 was not so emotionally charged. And even during his swansong, buyers, clients and press could not help but compare this gentile collection with the wild, fantastical and hyped-up show that Givenchy's British successor, John Galliano, presented the night before.

The spirit of Givenchy's great friend and muse, Audrey Hepburn, was with him as the music from Breakfast at Tiffany's played to accompany 1950s cocktail dresses with bell-shaped skirts like those worn by the actress in the film Sabrina. There were also timeless column evening dresses that will no doubt continue to be worn and cherished by the women whose wardrobes have relied on Givenchy over the years, long into the new Galliano regime.

For the daytime, there were simple jersey dresses, classic skirt suits and safari-style belted jackets with matching pants. There was also the classic nautical look that women love - soft cardigan jackets and twin- sets in navy and white, worn with wide cream pants. Givenchy has always erred on the side of discreet good taste. He has always shown wearable clothes rather than show-stoppers and the clothes have been more important than the models wearing them. As a characteristically discreet salute to his friendship with Hollywood, there were suits printed with a scattering of stars.

His final bow was as low key and well-mannered as his collections. There was no hysteria, just a quiet and graceful wave goodbye.

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