French fashion icon Hubert de Givenchy dies aged 91

French fashion icon Hubert de Givenchy dies aged 91

The couturier, who worked in fashion for more than 40 years, dressed the likes of Jackie Kennedy, Grace Kelly, and perhaps most memorably, Audrey Hepburn in her now-iconic little black dress in Breakfast at Tiffany's.

An aristocrat and a towering talent who stood 6 feet 5 inches tall, Givenchy founded his fashion house in 1952 at age 24 to immediate success.

"The little black dress is the hardest thing to realize because you must keep it simple", Givenchy explained. "His work remains as relevant today as it was then".

Born into an aristocratic family in the provincial city of Beauvais on February 21, 1927, Givenchy struck out for Paris in his late teens, in the wake of World War II.

Givenchy served apprenticeships with other designers - Jacques Fath, Robert Piguet and the exuberant, iconoclastic Elsa Schiaparelli - before venturing out on his own.

In addition to the Paris fashion house and boutiques in at least eight countries, LVMH also took ownership of 178 Givenchy licenses for perfumes, clothing, and interior decoration. Blouses, skirts, jackets and pants combinations could be mixed and matched.

But the client whose name would become nearly synonymous with the house was Audrey Hepburn, whom he met in 1953, when he dressed her for the romantic comedy "Sabrina".

Legend has it that Givenchy - told only that Mademoiselle Hepburn would be coming in for a fitting - was expecting the grand Katharine Hepburn. Instead, the diminutive Audrey showed up, dressed in cigarette trousers, a T-shirt and sandals.

Apart from dressing women, Mr.de Givenchy made everlasting friendships with his clients.

Fashion industry giants LVMH group bought Givenchy in 1988, and in Hubert de Givenchy retired.

His classical approach eventually "led him to no longer see himself in more unstructured styles" taking over the fashion world, the Elysee Palace statement said.

"He was the first creator to launch a luxury ready-to-wear range".

John Galliano, Alexander McQueen and Riccardo Tisci have all since served as creative directors of the label, with former Chloé designer Clare Waight Keller now helming the house.

Givenchy set the template for ladylike chic in the 1950s and 1960s, and his restrained style still informs the way Britain's Queen Elizabeth II and older American and Chinese socialites dress. Under designer Riccardo Tisci (who recently joined Burberry) it became a hit with the Kardashians and was credited with attracting the most social media "buzz" during Paris fashion week.

He is survived by his long-time partner and former designer Philippe Venet.

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