PARIS, France — Hubert de Givenchy has died at 91.
The French designer, who passed away on Saturday, was closely associated with actress Audrey Hepburn, a lifelong client who enlisted Givenchy to design many of her iconic Hollywood costumes.
Born in 1927 in Beauvais, France, Givenchy initially studied law before entering the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris.
The designer worked alongside Pierre Balmain, Christian Dior and Elsa Schiaparelli, before opening his house in 1952. A year later, he met Hepburn. He was among the first to recognise the power of enlisting a film star as an ambassador and designed the little black dress she wore in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.”
The couturier, known for his feminine and timeless garments, went on to design for a range of esteemed women, including the Duchess of Windsor, Grace Kelly, Countess Mona von Bismarck, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Marlene Dietrich, Ingrid Bergman and Greta Garbo, among others.
Givenchy branched out into menswear in 1969, and a year later, he began designing furnishing fabrics.
After more than 30 years in charge, he sold his label to the French luxury goods group LVMH in 1988 (Henry Racamier, LVMH’s former vice chairman, oversaw the acquisition for a reported $45 million in 1988.)
Among many awards, Givenchy received the Legion of Honour, one of France’s most prestigious accolades, in 1983 and a lifetime achievement award from the Council of Fashion Designers of America in 1995, the year in which he retired.
His successor was John Galliano, followed by Alexander McQueen, although both often ignored the founder’s legacy. After a stint by Julien Macdonald, Riccardo Tisci took the creative helm at the brand from 2005 until 2017.
Under Tisci’s creative leadership, the company reportedly grew revenues by more than sixfold, fuelled by the Italian designer’s dark and sensual collections, social media prowess and influential celebrity supporters. (Tisci is now heading to Burberry to join former Givenchy chief executive Marco Gobbetti.)
Clare Waight Keller, who spent the last six years at Chloé and is now artistic director of Givenchy, 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.”
Inside Givenchy’s Ambitions to Become a Global Megabrand