French aristocratic fashion designer, Hubert de Givenchy, who has been in the fashion industry for more than four decades, dressing the likes of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Grace Kelly and memorably Audrey Hepburn, in a little black dress, in the movie “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” died on Saturday. He was 91.
New York Times reported that his very first show, a smash hit with retailers and the press when it was seen in February 1952, when Givenchy was just 24 years old, included the “Bettina blouse,” a tribute to his original muse, Bettina Graziani, the leading model of Paris of the day who had joined his fledgling company as the director of public relations, saleswoman and fit model.
Shortly thereafter, Mr. Givenchy came to the attention of the young Ms. Hepburn, a rising star who was so charmed by his youthful designs that she insisted that he make her clothes for nearly all of her movies, and help mold her sylphlike image in the process.
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.
In 1961, Ms. Hepburn and Mr. Givenchy created one of the most indelible cinematic fashion moments of the 20th century in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” when her character Holly Golightly approaches the titular Fifth Avenue jeweler wearing oversize sunglasses, four strands of sparkling pearls, long evening gloves and a black Givenchy dress — a slender, shoulder-baring column — that looks startlingly out of place for the early morning hour.
For generations of young women dreaming of a glamorous life in the big city, the image of Ms. Hepburn as Golightly came to represent a certain ideal, that of the rich bohemian throwing wild parties while wearing magnificently gorgeous gowns. In 2006, the dress was sold at a charity auction at Christie’s in London for $923,187.
His partner, the former haute couture designer Philippe Venet, announced his death through the Givenchy fashion house, saying he had died in his sleep on Saturday. The pair lived in a Renaissance chateau near Paris.