Could this be the world’s glammest museum?

15 April 2010

Balenciaga and Givenchy archive pieces on show? Tell us more . . .obviously we are focused on the general election right now, but with the other eye, we are busy perusing holidays too.

Anyone off to sunny France this summer may be interested to know that the Château de Haroué, an 18th-century castle in France’s Lorraine region near Nancy will be an unexpectedly fa-fa-fa fashWAN hotspot, starting from 6th May this year.


And hark! The exhibition will include pieces such as the spellbinding historical wedding dress made by Cristobel Balenciaga for Queen Fabiola of Belgium as well as pieces from the Givenchy and Phillipe Venet archive, but is being put together by Hubert de Givenchy himself! Yep, the aristocratic French designer (now 83) retired from fashion design in 1995, has had to go chasing around Museums and the company’s archives to get the 45 pieces from his own label – many of which were originally worn by Audrey Hepburn.

Cristobel Balenciaga in 1960 at Coco Chanel's funeral

Meanwhile, designer Phillipe Venet – the third part of the triptych – had a successful career as a tailor then as a couturier in his own right. His work life was interwoven with that of Givenchy. They met while both assisting legendary designer Elsa Schiaparelli, then later Hubert employed Phillipe as his master tailor, who ended up working on many of the designs for Miss Hepburn herself. Later Venet set up his own fashion house. He contributed designs picked out his own archive for the exhibition.

A Balenciaga Fitting

Givenchy also received generous loans of pieces from some of Balenciaga’s private clients.  These dresses are quite literally the crème de la crème of haute couture – not only from a star-struck by Hollywood glory point of view, but from a design aspect too, as in many ways the two men laid the foundations of both modern red carpet dressing and (luxury) daywear.


Hubert de Givenchy and his muse Audrey Hepburn in 1979

When Hubert de Givenchy hung up his pens and folded his drawing board for the last time he left a legacy almost impossible to compete with. John Galliano, Alexander McQueen and Julien Macdonald all put in stints at the venerable house, where now Riccardo Tisci seems to have hit his stride.

Anyone unable to make it to Nancy, could maybe set their sights on the 144-page book that author Christiane de Nicolay-Mazery will publish at Flammarion instead. Sounds like a delicious fashion feast to us.

- Naomi Attwood


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