Hubert Taffin de Givenchy, the aristocratic French fashion designer has died, aged 91, last Saturday in his home located outside of Paris. This was confirmed by Givenchy’s longtime partner, former haute couture designer Philippe Venet, as revealed in a statement to AFP that Givenchy died in his sleep.
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 symbolised Parisian chic and elegance for more than half a century. His enduring influence and his approach to style reverberates to this day. He will be greatly missed.”
After having founded his own eponymous house in 1952 in Paris, Givenchy debuted his first ever collection by championing the concept of separates — tops and bottoms that could be mixed and matched, as opposed to single one-piece looks which were the norm among Paris couture purveyors back then. He was only 24 at that time, and his works immediately drew international recognition.
Givenchy, who was widely known for his impeccable manners and exquisite taste, soon became popular with big names such as socialite Gloria Guinness, Duchess of Windsor 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 dressed for the 1954 romantic comedy Sabrina. The slender, shoulder-baring black sheath dress he made for the opening scenes of Hepburn’s hit film “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” was arguably one of the most iconic “little black dress” of all time.
Givenchy retired from his company in 1995, which has since been helmed by top designers John Galliano, Alexander McQueen, Julien Macdonald, and Riccardo Tisci, with Clare Waight Keller currently serving as the artistic director of the brand. He had then delved into the arts as an antiques expert for various museums.
Fashion mogul Bernard Arnault, head of the giant LVMH group which now owns Givenchy, also paid tribute to the late designer saying, “he was one of the creators who put Paris at the summit of world fashion in the 1950s.”
Upon news of the designer’s death, many used social media to share their condolences.
— Naomi Campbell (@NaomiCampbell) March 12, 2018
Farewell, Hubert de Givenchy, whose work with Audrey Hepburn defined the relationship between designer and muse, but who was also so much more.
— Vanessa Friedman (@VVFriedman) March 12, 2018
RIP Hubert de Givenchy. A true couturier. “The eternal apprentice” as he liked to call himself. He believed in beauty and he left us a more beautiful world. He dressed stars and created fashion icons like Audrey Hepburn. I hope you can now reunite with y… https://t.co/N2valxMmSO pic.twitter.com/lnGqR3TkIn
— Nina Garcia (@ninagarcia) March 12, 2018
Givenchy is survived by his partner Venet, his nieces and nephews and their children who plan to hold a private funeral for the fashion legend. They have requested that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to UNICEF in his name.