Givenchy, iconic French fashion designer, dies at 91

Tuesday, 13 Mar, 2018

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.

Following his passing on Monday at the age of 91, Egypt Today chose to take a look at the life of fashion godfather Hubert de Givenchy.

Even today, Givenchy remains a star-studded brand.

A protégé of Cristobal Balenciaga-whom he met at a Condé Nast party-Givenchy worked with some of fashion's greatest names, including Christian Dior and Pierre Balmain.

During her stay in the White House, Jacqueline Kennedy, former U.S. first lady, adopted the Givenchy look with a uniform of shift dresses, pillbox hats and low-heeled pumps.

Born Feb. 21, 1927, in the provincial city of Beauvais, north of Paris, Givenchy was raised by his mother and maternal grandparents after his father, a business executive and amateur pilot, died when he was a toddler.

Couturier Jacques Fath hired Givenchy on the strength of his sketches. Blouses, skirts, jackets and pants combinations could be mixed and matched.

Working on a tight budget, Givenchy served up the floor-length skirts and country chic blouses in raw 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.

He made clothes which made women look and feel handsome, 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. "He is more than a designer, he is a creator of personality", Hepburn once said of her friend.

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. She was enchanted by his designs and wanted Givenchy to make her dresses for all of her movies.

Givenchy also introduced the concept of "separates", a style of dressing that was about elegance - and freedom.

"He was among those designers who placed Paris firmly at the heart of world fashion post 1950 while creating a unique personality for his own fashion label", according to a statement released by LVMH.

The designer sold his couture house to LVMH in 1988, though stayed on as head of creative design until his retirement in 1995.