An old master offers seamless simplicity: The Givenchy collection stands out among the gimmicks in Paris, Alison Veness reports

HIS designs may not be the toast of Paris or launch a thousand imitations, but for Hubert du Givenchy, la mode is an evolution.

Established as a couturier in 1952, Givenchy has had 42 years in which to perfect the language of clothes and needless to say, he is now fluent.

Yesterday, in the ornate gilded ballroom of the Grand Hotel, he presented a harmonious, virtually flawless collection - no feathered faces, no gimmicks.

The sad news is that it may be his penultimate couture collection, if he retires in 1995, aged 65. But for now the show goes on and, to the sound of Frank Sinatra, his models pranced down the catwalk like exquisite thoroughbreds, all good breeding and Swiss finishing schools.

Givenchy cuts and handles fabrics in such an accomplished manner that it is virtually impossible to see any seams or fastenings. Silk organzas and crepe de Chine appear as light as downy feathers with tulip skirts, seemingly balancing on air, and bias-cut ruffles on evening gowns rippling with the slightest movement.

Although his designs don't smack of sex appeal, no waist-high splits or cleavage queens, they are more mysteriously sensuous. This luxurious refinement is one of the qualities he has been pursuing since the beginning and after the show, having done the ritual backstage handshaking with an impressive line-up of loyal customers, he elaborated on his philosophy.

'I want people to immediately understand my message, I want them to know that it's a jacket, a dress, a pair of trousers, I don't want them to be confused. As I approach the end of my career you can see that I am moving towards total simplicity. Absolute simplicity.'

Dressed in the traditional white linen working jacket of the haute couturier, Givenchy resembles a chemist - but then couture labels have always been the laboratories for ideas.

He may not be working on explosive experiments or attempting to woo restless fashion editors, but there is room within a fickle industry for one thoughtful master craftsman. And these days, simplicity has perhaps the strongest novelty value.

Of the future, he says: 'When I do finally retire I hope someone exciting and someone new will replace me. It's important that an established hand is not imprinted on the house - we have to look forward.'

And by this he means the next 42 years - not the next 15 minutes of fame.

(Photographs omitted)

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Client Services Assistant

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Client Services Assistant is ...

Recruitment Genius: Junior / Senior Sales Broker - OTE £100,000

£20000 - £100000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportuni...

Recruitment Genius: Duty Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Duty Manager is required to join one of the ...

Recruitment Genius: Team Leader

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Team Leader is required to join one of the l...

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor