Hubert de Givenchy: The Man Who Dressed Audrey and Jackie
The famed French fashion designer has died at the age of 91.
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An aristocrat by birth and a designer by passion, Hubert de Givenchy was a force in French fashion for more than four decades. With a keen eye for color and cut, he dressed some of the 20th century's biggest icons, including Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and Grace Kelly. But his most famous partnership was with Audrey Hepburn — his muse and patron whom he styled both on- and off-screen.
Born in Beauvais, France, in 1927, Givenchy worked under avant-garde designer Elsa Schiaparelli before opening his own fashion house in post-war Paris in 1952. He oversaw his namesake company until 1995, when he turned the label over to his successor, John Galliano. Givenchy remained active in the art world in his later years, serving as an antiques expert for Christie's, among others. He died on March 12 at the age of 91. Here, FOTO looks back at his fashionable legacy.
Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty ImagesThe Ultimate InspirationNeither Hepburn nor Givenchy were household names when they began their collaboration. In fact, according to the New York Times, Givenchy was expecting a very different Hepburn when the actress came calling in the early 1950s for help with the film "Sabrina." "She wore tight little pants and a little T-shirt, and I was so disappointed she wasn't Katharine," Givenchy recalled. "I said I had no time — I was in the middle of making my second collection, and I didn't have too many workers then. But we had dinner that night, and before dinner was over, I told her, 'I'll do anything for you.'"
Hulton Archive/Getty ImagesThe Little Black DressThe duo would work on a bevy of films together, including "Love in the Afternoon," "Paris When It Sizzles," and "Funny Face" (for which Givenchy was nominated for a Best Costume Design Oscar). But it would be the simple black sheath from 1961's "Breakfast at Tiffany's" that would become an indelible piece of cinema history. The dress was later sold at auction at Christie's in 2006 for $923,187. "The little black dress is the hardest thing to realize," Givenchy told the Times, "because you must keep it simple."NBC/NBC via Getty ImagesDress for SuccessWho else to wear to her first Academy Awards but friend Givenchy? The white lace gown proved winning for Hepburn, who took home her first Oscar for 1953's "Roman Holiday."RDA/RETIRED/Getty ImagesAmerican RoyaltyOf course, Hepburn didn't have a monopoly on Givenchy's designs. For Jacqueline Kennedy's visit to Paris in 1961, she opted for creations by the thoroughly French Givenchy. The First Lady wore a sleeveless satin Givenchy gown and a two-piece tweed skirt suit (seen here). Tres chic!
Bettmann/Bettmann ArchiveReal RoyaltyAnd then there's Grace Kelly. For her meeting with the Kennedys that same year, the Princess of Monaco flaunted her own Givenchy frock — this one in a stunning emerald green.Bertrand Rindoff Petroff/Getty ImagesForever FriendsGivenchy and Hepburn remained close until her death in 1993. According to People, Hepburn left more than 25 Givenchy dresses from her personal collection to the designer, which he loaned out to various museums throughout the years. Theirs is truly an unforgettable sartorial alliance.
DEUTSCH Jean-Claude/Paris Match via Getty ImagesOne Last StrollThough he sold his company to LVMH in 1988, Givenchy remained the designer until 1995. Here, he walks his final runway show before handing over the label to John Galliano, who would remain at the helm for just a year before decamping to Dior. (Alexander McQueen would succeed him.) At the 2017 opening of the "Hubert de Givenchy" exhibition at the Museum of Lace and Fashion in Calais, France, the designer reflected on his long career: "Mine is one of the most beautiful professions in fashion," he said. "Making others happy with an idea."