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Fashion drawing by Hubert de Givenchy working for Elsa Schiaparelli (between 1944 and 1952)

Fashion drawing by Hubert de Givenchy working for Elsa Schiaparelli (between 1944 and 1952)

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At the beginning of his career, working for Elsa Schiaparelli, Hubert de Givenchy imagined a new dress.

Fashion design by Hubert de Givenchy when he was working for Elsa Schiaparelli. A leaf. In French. +/- 21 cm x 27 cm. Paris, between 1944 and 1952. Lower left corner torn, but in excellent general condition. Single piece.

My dear Elsa,

I remembered you today, on a cold autumnal afternoon with orange leaves, when I walked through the streets of Paris, still a little aimless, thinking only about which restaurant I would choose for dinner that night. In this humble letter, I will not be a poet boasting about your smile, but I do need to tell you something that occurred to me.

It was about five o'clock in the afternoon, and the artificial light from the houses blended into the golden evening sky. Everything was so peaceful that it almost bored me, until I saw a lady walking along the other side of the path. She was, indeed, a beautiful woman, however, to be honest, she saw herself almost misshapen. Her curves were covered by a somewhat Rococo dress, the kind my grandmother wore for our country lunches. An absurdly tight waist, which marked more than artificial curves, made me question whether it was really a woman that passed in front of me. But what would she look like if the fabric that wrapped her body exalted her nature? Less sinuous and more elegant.

That said, an indomitable desire to draw came over me. I grabbed the pencil, which I always carry in my pocket, and the first piece of paper I had within reach: a napkin from a charming cafe. Yes I had to sit down and order something to eat to justify such abrupt use of the poor napkin on the table. And, from then on, a muse took over me, I drew and drew without seeing the passage of time. It was night when I finally dropped the pen. I returned home with a small treasure tucked away in my pocket. Little treasure, this one, which I now humbly share with you.

I apologize for interrupting your trip with work matters. However, I had to get this letter into your hands. Obviously, I was careful to transfer that modest draft to a page with all the pomp. After all, a lady like you surely deserves more than a soiled napkin. However, the drawing that I am giving you, together with this letter, was born out of that moment of inspiration.

I tell you all this because, while translating my drawing onto this paper that is now in your hands, I thought about how much it could be useful to you. I dream that this drawing will serve as inspiration for us to launch a new collection. I know how much you are bothered by the incessant competition that Coco Chanel insists on fighting. Well, I feel that, with this collection, she will no longer be able to say that you are “that Italian artist who makes clothes”. You will have to admit that you are THE greatest artist in all of Europe, and that you have fashion at your feet. I hope this daring dream of mine is not taken the wrong way, but the years working with you have made me more than admire you. Therefore, I will understand, too, if you believe that all this was nothing more than a sweet illusion of a dreamy mind. However, full of hope, I eagerly await your response.

From your great admirer,

Hubert de Givenchy

The text above is 100% fictional, but the drawing is 100% original. Each autograph document, especially drawings, has known elements and others that we have to imagine... it's part of the magic of the discipline, from my point of view. Hubert de Givenchy (1927 - 2018) was a major figure in French fashion and Givenchy remains a world-class company. This drawing is particularly interesting - and rare - because it was created by Givenchy early in his career, when he was working for Elsa Schiaparelli.

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