Hubert de Givenchy is, of course, one of the great names in fashion and haute couture, known for his talent and for having broken the codes of his time, in the mid-1950s. The Bettina blouse or the little black dress, one can’t count his iconic pieces.
But if he embodies the quintessence of French elegance and taste, it is also through art. Indeed, in the course of his life, he has assembled an absolutely exceptional collection of furniture or art items, each very different. What binds his two passions is a creativity and a sense of absolute refinement!
As of June 8, Christie’s presents an exceptional sale bringing together a collection of her works of art through more than 1000 sets, the Kugel Gallery pays tribute to the great taste of the famous designer. The Kugel family, a friend of Mr.Givenchy, gathers together a collection of furniture and objects that belonged to him.
Icon-Icon met with Laura Kugel, sixth generation of this family of collectors to talk about this exhibition which will be held from June 9 to June 15.
Meeting with Laura Kugel: Tribute to Hubert de Givenchy, Collector
How would you define the Kugel gallery? What is its specificity, its guideline?
We cover a wide range of specialties, from antique sculpture to neoclassical paintings and are lucky enough to be able to buy the items we like. Whether it is a masterpiece of 18th-century furniture or a piece of German Renaissance silverware, each work is carefully chosen. Most of the pieces we present come from private collections, we like to surprise our customers with new objects, often unknown from the market.
Starting June 9, you will present an exhibition dedicated to the collections of Hubert de Givenchy. You had the chance to have a special relationship with him, faithful to your gallery, could you tell us a little more about it?
Hubert de Givenchy was one of our biggest supporters after our father’s death, having encouraged us to take over the gallery and pursue the passion that drives our family. His influence was decisive and our gratitude is immense.
Exactly thirty years ago, in 1992, Hubert de Givenchy proposed to us to buy the iconic work of his collection, André-Charles Boulle’s famous cabinet with Apollo’s chariot, as well as the Limoges enamel collection that it contained. Demonstrating the benevolence and generosity that characterized him, he agreed to stage these works on our stand at the Biennale des Antiquaires in 1994.
As we prepare for the superb sale of his collection at Christie’s, we wanted to pay tribute to him by presenting to the public some works that belonged to him.
The relationship you had with Hubert de Givenchy suggests that you share a common passion for art. Although known for his passion for objects, we know him especially for fashion, we are curious to know what relationship Hubert de Givenchy had with objects?
Couturier is a profession that prepares the eye at the same time to detail and architecture. The great designers are like architects sensitive to materials and proportions, so it is not surprising that many of them were also great collectors. And Hubert de Givenchy was probably the most passionate. His taste was sharp and precise. He had a photographic ability to zoom in on the smallest details and recognize the quality of a chisel, the shape of a piece of furniture. He was very sensitive to the perfect finish of the 18th century cabinetmakers.
He had an ability to place furniture and objects harmoniously in a set, a volume with great ease. Each object was magnified under his gaze because he elegantly found the precise place that awaited him.
But when he encountered a more important object that could be placed even better, he did not hesitate to resell or exchange to improve his collection.
He made the sumptuous salons of the Hotel d’Orrouer rue de Grenelle the most beautiful mansion in Paris.
We imagine that it is an honor to receive the famous cabinet with Apollo’s chariot from Hubert de Givenchy, especially since it was his first purchase in his career as a collector. The latter has not been shown to the public for more than 28 years!
What’s the story with this closet?
André-Charles Boulle is the most famous French cabinetmaker. A brilliant designer, he was one of the first to develop gilt bronze elements for his furniture The Apollo chariot cabinet is one of his most sophisticated works of art. Its proportions are perfect, and the inlay work is breathtaking. This is one of the first works bought by Hubert de Givenchy, and can be found in the photos of his many interiors. It’s an iconic piece.
We exhibited it at the Biennale des Antiquaires in 1994, accompanied by the Limoges enamel collection by Hubert de Givenchy that we sold to Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé. It is a moving experience to exhibit this work again, accompanied by other objects that belonged to Hubert de Givenchy.
interview by Sébastien Girard, president of Icon-Icon, and Saskia Blanc.