Hubert de Givenchy, French fashion designer and tailor to the stars dies at 91

Audrey Hepburn wearing Givenchy
Fashion icon: Audrey Hepburn wearing a Little Black Dress in the 1961 movie Breakfast At Tiffany’s

French couturier Hubert de Givenchy, a pioneer of ready-to-wear who designed Audrey Hepburn’s little black dress in Breakfast At Tiffany’s, close friend of Princess Grace of Monaco has died at the age of 91.

The artistic director of Givenchy, Clare Waight Keller, said on her official Instagram account she is

“deeply saddened by the loss of a great man and artist I have had the honour to meet”.

French fashion designer Hubert de Givenchy, an aristocrat who founded the house of Givenchy in the 1950s, becoming famous for dressing the likes of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and Grace Kelly.

His family — his father was the marquis of Givenchy — had hoped their son would become a lawyer but the young man, who stood 1.96 metres (6 feet 5 inches) tall, was drawn to fashion and design from a young age, moving to Paris to study at 17.

Couturier Jacques Fath hired Givenchy on the strength of his sketches. He spent two years learning the basics of fashion design, from sketching to cutting and fitting haute couture styles.

His hallmark creations, including balloon-sleeved blouses and calf-length trousers with flared hems, were hailed in their time as airy alternatives to the tight waists and artificial curves of the then-dominant “New Look” of Christian Dior.

His first collection — unveiled in 1952 — won recognition the day it was presented: Givenchy rang up 7 million francs (approximately 1 million euros) of orders, enough to allow him to pay off his backers and assume ownership himself.

His interest in fabric sprang from a childhood familiarity with fine textiles at the home of his maternal grandfather, who was an administrator for the Beauvais and Gobelin tapestry industries and a collector of quality fabrics.

Givenchy was part of the elite cadre of Paris-based designers, including Christian Dior and Yves Saint Laurent, who redefined fashion after the Second World War.

The designer forged close friendships with his famous clients, among them Liz Taylor, Jackie Kennedy and Princess Grace of Monaco.

His company was acquired by luxury retail giant LVMH in 1989 but Givenchy designed for the brand until his retirement in 1995.

He had died in his sleep on Saturday in a Renaissance chateau near Paris.

“Hubert de Givenchy was a symbol of Parisian elegance for more than half a century… who revolutionised fashion,” his label said Monday.

Hubert de Givenchy - Audrey-Hepburn
It was Givenchy’s 40-year friendship with Hepburn, who he met on the set of the Billy Wilder’s Oscar-winning comedy ‘Sabrina’ in 1953, that helped make him a fashion legend. The pair are pictured together at fashion show in 1992 in Paris / Photo: Daily Mail

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