French cou­turier Givenchy dead at 91

Givenchy de­signed a lit­tle black dress worn by Au­drey Hep­burn in ‘Break­fast at Tiffany’s’

The News Herald (Willoughby, OH) - - Front Page - By Sylvie Cor­bet

Hu­bert de Givenchy, who de­signed Au­drey Hep­burn’s lit­tle black dress in “Break­fast at Tiffany’s,” has died.

PARIS » French cou­turier Hu­bert de Givenchy, a pi­o­neer of ready-to-wear who de­signed Au­drey Hep­burn’s lit­tle black dress in “Break­fast at Tiffany’s,” has died at the age of 91.

The house of Givenchy paid homage to its founder in a state­ment as “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 rev­o­lu­tion­ized in­ter­na­tional fash­ion with the time­lessly stylish looks he cre­ated for Au­drey Hep­burn, his great friend and muse for over 40 years,” the house of Givenchy said. “His work re­mains as rel­e­vant to­day as it was then.”

Along with Chris­tian Dior, Yves Saint Lau­rent and men­tor Cris­to­bal Ba­len­ci­aga, Givenchy was part of the elite cadre of Paris-based de­sign­ers who re­de­fined fash­ion in the wake of World War II.

A tow­er­ing man of el­e­gance

and im­pec­ca­ble man­ners, he forged close friend­ships with his fa­mous clients, from Hol­ly­wood screen sirens of the likes of Liz Tay­lor and Lau­ren Ba­call to women of state, in­clud­ing Jackie Kennedy and Princess Grace of Monaco.

Born into an aris­to­cratic fam­ily in the pro­vin­cial city of Beau­vais on Feb. 21, 1927, Givenchy struck out

for Paris in his late teens, in the wake of World War II.

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.

Af­ter ap­pren­tic­ing with other top names, Givenchy founded his own house in 1952.

His de­but col­lec­tion ush­ered in the con­cept of sep­a­rates — tops and bot­toms that could be mixed and matched, as op­posed to head-to-toe looks that were the norm among Paris cou­ture pur­vey­ors.

Work­ing on a tight bud­get, Givenchy served up the floor-length skirts and coun­try chic blouses in raw white cot­ton ma­te­ri­als nor­mally re­served for fit­tings.

“Le Grand Hu­bert,” as he was of­ten called for his 6-foot, 5-inch (1.96 me­ters) frame, be­came pop­u­lar with priv­i­leged haute cou­ture cus­tomers, and his la­bel soon se­duced the likes of Glo­ria Guin­ness, Wal­lis Simp­son and Em­press Farah Pahlavi of Iran.

But the client whose name would be­come al­most syn­ony­mous with the house was Au­drey Hep­burn, whom he met in 1953, when he dressed her for the ro­man­tic com­edy “Sab­rina.”

Leg­end has it that Givenchy — told only that Made­moi­selle Hep­burn would be com­ing in for a fit­ting — was ex­pect­ing the grand Kather­ine Hep­burn. In­stead, the diminu­tive Au­drey showed up, dressed in cig­a­rette pants, a T-shirt and san­dals.

Thus be­gan a decades­long friend­ship that saw Givenchy dress the star in nearly a dozen films, in­clud­ing the 1961 hit “Break­fast at Tiffany’s.” The sleeve­less black evening gown she wore in the movie, com­plete with rows of pearls, el­bow-length gloves and over­sized shades, would end up be­com­ing Givenchy’s most fa­mous look.

The French president’s of­fice praised Givenchy as a de­signer whose name be­came an em­blem for French el­e­gance, with one prin­ci­ple: “to re­spect and cel­e­brate the woman’s body.”

His classical ap­proach even­tu­ally “led him to no longer see him­self in more un­struc­tured styles” tak­ing over the fash­ion world, the El­y­see Palace state­ment said.

“France loses a master, the Master of el­e­gance, of cre­ation, of in­ven­tion,” the state­ment said, shar­ing the con­do­lences of President Em­manuel Macron and his wife, Brigitte, to Givenchy’s com­pan­ion and friends.

Aim­ing to reach a wider mar­ket, Givenchy launched a line of up­scale ready-towear and ac­ces­sories in the 1960s. Its com­mer­cial suc­cess soon en­abled him to buy out his back­ers, mak­ing him one of only a hand­ful of Paris cou­turi­ers to own their own la­bel out­right.


French de­signer Hu­bert de Givenchy is ap­plauded by his mod­els July 11, 1995, af­ter his 1995-96 fall-win­ter haute cou­ture fash­ion col­lec­tion in Paris. French cou­turier Hu­bert de Givenchy, a pi­o­neer of ready-to-wear who de­signed Au­drey Hep­burn’s lit­tle black dress in “Break­fast at Tiffany’s,” has died at the age of 91.


Model Romilly Collins wears the black Givenchy dress made for ac­tress Au­drey Hep­burn in the clas­sic 1961 film “Break­fast at Tiffany’s” in cen­tral Lon­don.

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