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The Story Behind Givenchy L'interdit

Posted on January 07 2022

The Story Behind Givenchy L'interdit

Givenchy is known for his bold and daring designs, as well as Givenchy’s friendship with the iconic actress and model Audrey Hepburn.

Some would say that the embodiment of Givenchy and Hepburn’s friendship is the L’interdit scent - but what exactly is L’interdit? And what is the story behind it?

Keep reading to learn more about the Givenchy brand, history, as well as Givenchy’s friendship with Audrey Hepburn - and of course, the iconic L’interdit scent.


Givenchy - A Brief History

The Givenchy brand gets its name from founder Hubert de Givenchy, who founded the brand back in 1952.

Givenchy is known for its popular and stylish haute-couture clothes, as well as its quality range of perfumes, accessories, and cosmetics.

Givenchy is also known for having a long-term friendship and professional collaboration with actress Audrey Hepburn, but we’ll go into more detail about this in the ‘Givenchy and Hepburn’ section of the post.

Hubert de Givenchy stepped foot into the fashion world by apprenticing at a fashion house - the Jacques Fath fashion house. Once he completed his apprenticeship, he moved on to work for names such as Robert Piquet, Lucien Lelong, and Elsa Schiaparelli. In fact, he became artistic director of Schiaparelli Boutique at the Place Vendôme.

This gave him the experience, inspiration and drive he needed to launch his own fashion house - the house of Givenchy. The iconic collection ‘Les Séparables’ was soon launched and became an instant hit.

Fashionistas and critics loved the fresh feel that Givenchy brought to the market - the flowing skirts and elegant blouses were made using simple materials, and gave women a sense of freedom rather than feeling restricted in tight and uncomfortable garments.

In fact, Givenchy’s designs were considered groundbreaking - offering something different from the conservative looks of the time. His first collection secured his name in the world of fashion, and people knew to watch out for his designs.

Givenchy provided women with the chance to mix and match garments as opposed to being restricted to just one-piece dresses and looks.

In 1955, just three years after the launch, Givenchy launched the shirt dress which was an instant success. If you didn’t have it in your wardrobe in 1955 and 1956, you were missing out. It was a practical choice that oozed style - women no longer had to compromise style for practicality or vice versa.

He released Givenchy Gentleman in 1974, which was instantly popular with men from around the globe. 

Givenchy continued to make groundbreaking, stylish and luxury designs, solidifying his name as one of the best luxury fashion designers in the world.

In 1988, the brand fell under the LVMH umbrella, tying Givenchy to Marc Jacobs, Stella McCartney, Christian Dior, and other luxury fashion brands.

After Givenchy retired in 1995, the brand continued - with the likes of Galliano, Alexander McQueen, Julien MacDonald, Riccardo Tisci, and Clare Waight Keller taking over the reins.

Clare Waight Keller actually designed the Givenchy wedding dress for Meghan Markle’s wedding to Prince Harry - the brand has a history of working with celebrities and high-profile individuals. Click the link to find out why Givenchy is such a popular brand for celebrities. 

In 2018, 91-year old Hubert de Givenchy passed away in Paris, the place where it all began. He left behind his brand and a legacy that will never be forgotten.

Click here to learn about the history of Givenchy in more depth. 


Givenchy and Hepburn

Givenchy collaborated with a wide variety of high-profile names and celebrities throughout his career, but one of the most notable was Audrey Hepburn.

However, Givenchy didn’t just collaborate with Hepburn on a professional level - they became fast friends.

Just one year after the Givenchy launch, Hepburn paid a visit to the Givenchy studio in Paris while she was filming Sabrina. She went with the hope to get a dress designed for the film - but Givenchy was expecting Katharine Hepburn, who was more famous at the time.

When Givenchy first saw Audrey Hepburn, his first impression was that she was a thin person with short hair, thick eyebrows, and beautiful eyes. He also recalled her ballerina shoes and little t-shirt, with a straw gondolier’s hat and a red ribbon.

Hepburn asked Givenchy to dress her, and he declined at first. However, Hepburn didn’t give up, and invited him to dinner - and after that night, their professional and personal friendship began and thrived.

Givenchy pretty much fell under Hepburn’s spell at that point - or as Givenchy said, “her beauty, personality and lightness of spirit”.

There were countless collaborations between the pair - one of the most notable was Hepburn wearing Givenchy’s little black dress in the 1961 classic Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

The opening scene was iconic, with Hepburn’s character Holly Golightly stepping out of a cab wearing a long black dress holding a croissant and a coffee. In fact, this dress is considered by many as one of the most influential dresses in the whole of costume design.

Their friendship lasted until Hepburn passed away in 1993. Their friendship was like one out of a storybook - and captured the attention of millions. In fact, Hepburn was not only Givenchy’s close friend, but his muse - with Hepburn quoted saying “His are the only clothes in which I am myself. He is far more than a couturier - he is a creator of personality”.

As Hepburn became unwell, she gave Givenchy a blue quilted coat. She told him to wear it when he was sad, and that it would give him courage. Givenchy kept the coat until he died, and brought it with him from Geneva to Paris.


When Was L'interdit First Made?

L’interdit is the most popular scent by Givenchy, partly due to its beautiful scent, and partly due to its history and association with Audrey Hepburn.

The pair had a great professional and personal relationship, which led to many collaborations between the pair.

Givenchy launched Parfums Givenchy back in 1957, with their first fragrance being the iconic L’interdit.

This was created by Hubert de Givenchy for his friend Audrey Hepburn, featuring an aldehydic-floral scent with a delicate powdery aroma. There were notes of jasmine, violet, and rose, with secondary notes of woods and grasses.

‘Interdit’ means ‘forbidden’ in French, adding a sense of mystery to the iconic scent. The perfumer behind the scent was Francis Fabron, who was responsible for the delicate scents behind the perfume.

Givenchy created the perfume for Audrey Hepburn - in fact, she wore it for a year before it was publicly released. Hepburn was the first actress to become the face of a perfume (L’interdit). At the time, perfumes didn’t really have faces behind them - they launched on their own.

Givenchy set the trend of having high-profile people be the face of perfumes with L’interdit, revolutionising the world of perfumes.