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HAEU unveils two postcards written by Hubert de Givenchy to Madeleine Gobeil Noël

Posted on 13 July 2018

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"I met Hubert de Givenchy in 1983. We went on a very nice trip to Russia, with his partner Philippe Venet, from Leningrad (at the time) to Moscow. Vladimir Vassiliev is the Russian star of dance, some would even say God. He is also a choreographer.

I introduced Hubert to Emile Noël. They came from two different worlds but were bound by mutual esteem. Around the year 2000, after Emile’s death, Hubert came to Tuscany and stayed in our country house for a week. We made excursions to Siena and then to Florence, where we spent a wonderful evening at Marquise Pucci . We were welcomed into the ancient palace and new temple of fashion.” said Madeleine Gobeil Noël in March 2018.

Madeleine Gobeil Noël, journalist and former senior official at UNESCO, is the widow of the former Secretary General of the European Commission, Émile Noël (1922-1996).

With her permission the Historical Archives of the European Union is publishing two postcards, which were sent to her by her friend, Marquis Hubert de Givenchy. They are kept at the European University Institute in Florence.

The master of haute couture passed away in March 2018. On this occasion, we would like to share with the public one of the unusual pieces, small treasures or curiosities, housed at the Historical Archives. The post cards are an unexpected deviation from the European collections usually found in our holdings

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They were found among files deposited by Madeleine Gobeil Noël at the Historical Archives in December 2016, which are currently closed to the public. They concern the time period between 1989 and 1996; from the time she first met Emile Noël, the then President of the European University Institute, until the death of the latter.

Composed mainly of correspondence, they include the many messages of condolence the widow of the former leader of the European Commission received. However there are some personal pieces in the selection, such as the two postcards written by Hubert de Givenchy.

In a handful of words Mr Givenchy, ambassador of elegance and know-how across France, Europe and all around the world, demonstrates his sensitivity. As a man, who is in love with beauty, friendship and travel, is his choice of two reproductions of religious buildings a coincidence or a symbol?

The Venetian basilica of Frari and the Russian Cathedral of the Archangel Michael in the Kremlin are evocative, as they personify man’s almost superhuman craftsmanship and artistic abilities. They evoke beauty and divinity, work and contemplation, grandeur and humility.