ONE FOR THE BOOKS: A definitive volume chronicles the catwalks of Givenchy, spanning from the 1952 debut of Hubert de Givenchy to the fall 2023 collection by incumbent artistic director Matthew M. Williams.
Published by Thames & Hudson, “Givenchy Catwalk, The Complete Collections” is coauthored by fashion historian Alexandre Samson, who is a curator at Paris’ Palais Galliera museum, and fashion critic Anders Christian Madsen.
The 632-page volume is organized chronologically, each section starting with a succinct biography of de Givenchy, John Galliano, Alexander McQueen, Julien Macdonald, Riccardo Tisci, Clare Waight Keller and Williams. Thousands of images captured during the couture and ready-to-wear presentations give a snapshot of each season.
Giving this in-depth and chronological read of Givenchy’s history offers “understanding of the evolution of fashion in the second half of the 20th century,” said Samson. The progression “creates reference that is very good for the mind. With social media, you see shortcuts and [inaccurate] storytelling being created.”
The authors also dove deeply in the house archives, “among the most complete in terms of press coverage” according to Samson, to inform their introductory comment of each season. “This doesn’t just offer a monolithic vision but [constitutes] a constellation of views from international, national and even regional press that truly enlighten the narratives.”
For Samson, taking good as well as negative reviews led to a faithful report of the collections. “It means admitting doubt but also recognizing the success, which humanizes the designer, particularly de Givenchy,” said the historian.
Commentary also sheds light on other fashion history moments seen through a Givenchy lens, such as the return of Gabrielle Chanel, the emergence of André Courrèges or Yves Saint Laurent’s influence. It also highlights key relationships between de Givenchy and Audrey Hepburn but also with Cristobal Balenciaga.
“They built a duo, where one wasn’t greater than the other,” said Samson. “It’s really interesting and refreshing. Today, you see brands collaborating but press called [their] duo ‘Givenciaga’ in 1958.”
“Givenchy Catwalk, The Complete Collections” is available in English from Thursday, priced at 60 pounds. It will be available from Yale University Press on Nov. 28 in the U.S., at $80. Versions in French and Italian will be released in November by publishing houses La Martinière and L’Ippocampo, respectively.