French fashion icon Hubert de Givenchy has died aged 91

By Rose Adams | 12 Mar 2018 | Style

The Givenchy founder, who dressed the likes of Audrey Hepburn and First Lady Jackie Kennedy, is known for creating the Little Black Dress

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* Hubert de Givenchy has died aged 91 [© AFP]

Iconic French fashion designer Hubert de Givenchy has died aged 91. The Givenchy founder's partner Phillippe Venet, a fellow haute couture designer, announced the news on Monday 12 March. "It is with huge sadness that we inform you that Hubert Taffin de Givenchy has died," he said. "[He] died in his sleep on Saturday, 10 March 2018. His nephews and nieces and their children share their grief."

De Givenchy was credited with creating the Little Black Dress, as well as his classic feminine designs that were beloved by royals and celebrities alike. Born to aristocracy – his father Lucien was the Marquis of Givenchy, a title that passed on to his older brother Jean-Claude, president of Parfums Givenchy – de Givenchy is best known for his work with Hollywood actress Audrey Hepburn, designing her suits and woollen dresses for the musical Funny Face in 1957, and the iconic black sheath dress she wore in the opening scene of Breakfast at Tiffany’s

The pair shared a close friendship that spanned 40 years and, with Hepburn his muse, she even inspired the house’s first perfume l’Interdit. "His are the only clothes in which I am myself. He is far more than a couturier, he is a creator of personality," Hepburn said of the designer.

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* Hubert de Givenchy maintained a lifelong friendship with Breakfast at Tiffany's star Audrey Hepburn

He also notably dressed First Lady Jackie Kennedy, curating her trademark style of shifts dresses, pillbox hats and low-heeled pumps. On a state visit to France in 1961, Kennedy made a famously grand entrance in a Givenchy white silk faille dress heavily embroidered with roses and lilies of the valley at a state dinner at the Palace of Versailles.

De Givenchy was employed by avant-garde designer Elsa Schiaparelli before launching his own fashion house in 1952, at which he remained head of design until his retirement in 1995. Givenchy sold to the LVMH luxury group in 1988. LVMH Chairman and CEO Bernard Arnault led tributes to the designer, saying: "He was one of the creators who put Paris at the summit of world fashion in the 1950s."

Givenchy artistic director Claire Waight Keller paid tribute to her brand's founder on social media, writing: "I am deeply saddened by the loss of a great man and artist I have had the honor to meet and get to know since my appointment at Givenchy. Not only was he one of the most influential fashion figures of our time, whose legacy still influences modern day dressing, but he also was one of the chicest most charming men I have ever met. The definition of a true gentleman, that will stay with me forever. My deepest thoughts are with his loved ones in this difficult time. [sic]"

Waight Keller was appointed as artistic director earlier this month to fill the shoes of Ricardo Tisci, who has joined Burberry. Speaking at the opening of an exhibition in his honour at the Museum of Lace and Fashion in Calais last year, de Givenchy stated: “I am happy because I did the job I dreamed of as a child.”