Legendary fashion designer Hubert de Givenchy dies, aged 91

Published: 13 March 2018 Image credit: Reuters


Legendary French fashion designer Hubert de Givenchy, who founded one of the world’s most successful fashion houses and dressed the likes of Audrey Hepburn and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, has died aged 91.

“The house of Givenchy is sad to report the passing of its founder Hubert de Givenchy, a major personality of the world of French Haute Couture and a gentleman who symbolized Parisian chic and elegance for more than half a century. He will be missed,” The House of Givenchy said in a social media statement.

Synonymous with style and glamour, and often referred to as a ‘tailor to the stars’, Givenchy was perhaps best known for designing the ‘Little Black Dress’, made famous by Audrey Hepburn in the classic film “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”.

“The little black dress is the hardest thing to realise,” Givenchy said of his design, “because you must keep it simple.”

Hepburn would become a lifelong muse for Givenchy – he dressed her in countless other films, including “Sabrina” and “Funny Girl”.

Away from the glitz of show business, Givenchy designs can be seen popping up throughout iconic moments in US history – Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis wore a black Givenchy dress to the funeral of her husband, assassinated president John F. Kennedy.


​Jackie Kennedy attends the state funeral of her husband President John F. Kennedy in November, 1963

As a young man in 1940s France, the designer intended to study law to please his aristocratic French family.

But following the huge cultural shifts in Europe in the wake of World War Two, and the ‘atmosphere of liberation’ in his home country at the time, Givenchy decided to follow the path of fashion.

His first collection was unveiled in 1952. Critics at time compared it to ‘that first, best glass of champagne.’

After a hugely successful career, Givenchy sold The House of Givenchy to French luxury group LVMH in 1988 and retired in 1995.

Tributes for the designer have been pouring in on social media, but perhaps his creative genius was best described by his muse Audrey Hepburn. Of his capacity as a designer, she once said to Vogue magazine: “His are the only clothes in which I am myself. He is far more than a couturier, he is a creator of personality.”

Today The House of Givenchy continues its founder’s legacy, with a number of its creations featured during Hollywood awards season, millions of women worldwide using the brand’s perfume and beauty products, and the company earning an estimated 110 million euros (approximately $172 million AUD) annually.