Culture&Arts

Hubert de Givenchy, French fashion icon, dies at 91

Hubert de Givenchy, French fashion icon, dies at 91

Hubert James Taffin de Givenchy was born on February 21, 1927, in Beauvais, Oise in northern France. He would then become Artistic Director of the Schiaparelli boutique the Place Vendôme and is the one responsible for the 1950s and 1960s classical fashion trends while dressing everyone from princesses and first ladies to actors.

Givenchy came from an aristocratic background, and worked alongside the then unknown Pierre Balmain and Christian Dior after World War Two. The 91-year-old was most well-known for his world-conquering namesake fashion house.

His first collection was named "Separates" as it consisted of pieced together classical blouses, polished skirts and tailored lines. He left to start his own design house and created his very first designs out of men's white shirting material, unable to afford expensive fabrics. Later his creations would earn him a submission into the International Best Dressed List Hall of Fame in 1970.

Thus began a decades-long friendship that saw Givenchy dress the star in almost a dozen films, including the 1961 hit "Breakfast at Tiffany's".

He made clothes which made women look and feel attractive, and seemingly, he affirmed them too by removing the pressure of trying to "fit into clothes" off and (arguably) creating clothes for the existing body instead.

"His clothes for me have always not only thrilled me but also given me so much confidence".

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Legend has it that Givenchy - told only that Mademoiselle Hepburn would be coming in for a fitting - was expecting the grand Katharine Hepburn.

"He dedicated"“L'Interdit", his second of four perfumes, to Hepburn, and in 1988, when the state of California presented him with a Lifetime Achievement Award, she presided at the ceremony. "I intend to stay classic". But [structured] often slips into rigidity; I think it should be tempered by casualness - which can also tip into excess.

Before the need to diversify the fashion industry became increasingly urgent with each decade passing, before it became commercially lucrative to include people of colour in ad campaigns and on the runway, and before inclusion became a "trendy" tactic employed by the industry to hush the voices calling them out, Hubert de Givenchy had black women modelling his collections at fashion shows as early as the late '70s.

Known for his exquisite style and chic designs, the fashion icon passed away in his sleep on Saturday.

French fashion designer Hubert de Givenchy, who created famous looks for Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelly and Jackie Kennedy, has died at the age of 91.

His label paid tribute to its iconic founder on social media as news of his passing broke, revealing "he will be greatly missed".