Hubert de Givenchy, a French couturier who’s quintessentially elegant fashion dressed the likes of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Grace Kelly and Audrey Hepburn for more than four decades, died on Saturday at his home outside Paris at 91. His death was confirmed by Philippe Venet, his longtime companion and a former couture designer.
Mr. Givenchy was from a generation of gentlemanly designers. His couture house established in postwar Paris, was responsible for creating several collections of elegant fashion pieces that have become staple silhouettes. His very first show at 24 years of age was a smash hit with retailers and the press when it was seen in February 1952.
Shortly after starting his atelier, Givenchy came to the attention of young Ms. Hepburn, a rising star at the time who was so enamored of his youthful designs that she insisted he design her clothes for nearly all of her movies. In 1961, Ms. Hepburn and Givenchy created one of the most iconic cinematic fashion moments of the 20th century in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” when her character, Holly Golightly, had on long evening gloves and a black Givenchy dress accessories with oversize sunglasses and strands of sparkling pearls.
Since 1995 when he retired from fashion, Mr. Givenchy remained active in the arts as an antiques expert for Christie’s, the Château de Versailles and the Louvre museum. He also managed the French branch of the World Monuments Fund for several years.
He maintained several residences, including an hotel decorated with paintings by Matisse and Picasso in Paris and the 16th-century Manoir du Jonchet, a grand chateau in France with gardens designed “as a delicate piece of embroidery.” It was a collaboration with one of his many longtime friends and clients, American philanthropist Rachel Mellon who was also known as Bunny.
Six feet and six inches tall, with beautiful sand-colored hair, the aristocratic and chivalrous handsome Mr. Givenchy will be incredibly missed.