Fashion 89 : Givenchy and Valentino Add Final Touch

Hubert de Givenchy called his spring couture collections "An Homage to Paris." It was more: an homage to Givenchy's creativity and staying power. This year, the designer celebrates the 35th anniversary of his couture house.

Earlier in the year, Givenchy was acquired by the LVMH (Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy) group, which has since been absorbed into Bernard Arnault's Financiere Agache empire. Other Arnault holdings include Christian Dior, Christian Lacroix and the Hotel Georges V, to cite a handful.

"A masterful collection both in its range and in its proportions," said Philip B. Miller, chairman of Marshall Field, after the show. Givenchy will be the store's guest of honor at its "La Belle France" promotion, which opens Sept. 8 and will run for four months.

Above the Knee

As for the Givenchy proportion: think short. Consistent with what has been happening on the majority of runways here this week, the designer's skirts never even came near the knee. Suits had that marvelous Givenchy cut with lots of gold buttons flashing from pockets or cuffs. Skirts often wrapped at front or back. One of the best suits was in navy shantung with a scooped-out neckline filled in with a white silk T-shirt.

And a sure hit with his private customers who crowded the front rows even at 9:30 a.m. were the pastel-pink and pale-blue suits, the crisp tailoring softened by the delicate colors.

Side-Wrapped Versions

For his clients, Givenchy also included floral-printed crepe de Chine shirt dresses and the newer-looking, side-wrapped versions, one of the prettiest in navy crepe de Chine widely banded in navy satin.

For evening, the applause just didn't stop. Fans loved the tortoise-shell beaded top tucked into champagne satin trousers over which drifted a chiffon evening cape; the white-and-navy ribbon-embroidered lace short dress; the navy chiffon long-sleeve, plunging-V blouse with its Scarlett O'Hara navy taffeta skirt. And a black chiffon, satin and lace strapless long dress with a platter-size white camellia at the waist.

With the dropping of trade barriers in the European Economic Community just four years away, Valentino made his move into Paris, showing his couture here for the first time.

He complained there really weren't enough wealthy women in Rome to buy his clothes. But judging from those in the front rows in Paris, Valentino has certainly found clients who have the wherewithal. Susan Gutfreund, Judy Taubman, Deeda Blair, Nan Kempner and Valentino's fellow designer, Carolyne Roehm, who was attending her first couture season.

There were also a Jordanian princess and more countesses and baronesses than we've seen so far this week. Not to mention the beautiful young Italian movie star, Ornella Mutti. Also there were Saks Fifth Avenue chairman Mel Jacobs, Saks president Bert Tanski and Saks senior vice president and fashion director Ellin Saltzman. "It was the epitome of Roman couture," Saltzman said after the show.

For day, Valentino includes more than a few mid-calf skirts, a proportion most of his French counterparts were smart enough to avoid. Evening is Valentino's forte and while daytime did not dazzle, night certainly did. Some of the beauties were ruffled, floor-length floral-printed chiffons in Claude Monet pastels and a series of shoulder-draped dresses in heavy crepe. And for rich Republican women of the new Administration, Valentino's print-and-embroidery-theme GOP elephants.

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