Givenchy, French Designer Who Dressed Jackie Kennedy, Dead at 91

  • Givenchy founded fashion house known for modern elegance
  • Couturier sold his creation to luxury giant LVMH in 1988

Hubert De Givenchyin Paris in 1992.

Photographer: Bertrand Rindoff Petroff/French Select/Getty Images

Hubert de Givenchy, the French fashion designer who dressed Jackie Kennedy and Audrey Hepburn and whose name became synonymous with modern elegance, has died.

De Givenchy was 91 years old. Agence France-Presse was first to report the designer’s death, citing a statement from his partner, Philippe Venet.

The aristocratic couturier founded the House of Givenchy in 1952 and became an icon of French fashion during the prosperous decades following World War II. He sold the brand to LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton in 1988 and has been succeeded there by designers including Alexander McQueen and Riccardo Tisci, who was named artistic director of Burberry March 1.

De Givenchy’s creations are best known as the wardrobe of his most famous muse, Hepburn, who appeared in one of his satin black dresses playing Holly Golightly in the 1961 film “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” as well as other designs of his in “Sabrina” and “Funny Face.”

“Hubert de Givenchy has brought together two rare qualities: to be innovative and timeless,” LVMH Chief Executive Officer Bernard Arnault said in a statement. “He was among those designers who placed Paris firmly at the heart of world fashion post-1950.”

‘Audrey Look’

Audrey Hepburn and Hubert De Givenchy, right, in Paris in 1964.
Source: Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images

Celebrities who clamored for “the Audrey look” included actress Elizabeth Taylor, Princess Grace of Monaco and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.

“There is not a woman alive who does not dream of looking like Audrey Hepburn,” De Givenchy said, according to Donald Spoto’s book “Enchantment: The Life of Audrey Hepburn.”

“His are the only clothes in which I am myself,” Hepburn said, according to Vogue magazine. “He is far more than a couturier; he is a creator of personality.”

De Givenchy’s hallmarks were simplicity and discretion, even during the 1970s and ’80s, when overstatement and flamboyance were in vogue. He credited Spanish designer Cristobal Balenciaga, his mentor, with inspiring this aesthetic.

Count Hubert James Marcel Taffin de Givenchy was born in 1927 in Beauvais, France. The Givenchy family’s aristocratic roots are traced to 1713 and his ancestors designed sets for the Elysee Palace and the Paris Opera.

Elsa Schiaparelli

By age 10, De Givenchy developed a fascination with fashion and design. He studied at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris, and by age 20 was working for Italian designer Elsa Schiaparelli. By 1952, he had his own fashion house, known for its innovative chic. He went on to develop ready-to-wear and menswear collections, and his first perfume, L’Interdit (meaning “forbidden”), was created for Hepburn in 1957.

De Givenchy retired from design in 1995. Starting in 2005, under Tisci, LVMH scaled the fashion house into a global brand, adding more than 60 stores. Last year, the group hired Clare Waight Keller, formerly of Richemont’s Chloe, as its creative chief.

De Givenchy spent his last years at his estate near Paris, rarely giving interviews or making public appearances.

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