In memoriam: the cinematic life of fashion designer Hubert de Givenchy (1927-2018)
Hubert de Givenchy has passed away at the age of 91. The French fashion designer founded his eponymous label in 1952. He was renowned for dressing an international esteemed elite, including Lauren Bacall, Grace Kelly and Jackie Kennedy Onassis, and for his cinematic collaboration and longtime friendship with Audrey Hepburn.
The statuesque 6ft 6in tall aristocrat enrolled at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris in 1944. He honed his teeth at Schiaparelli, and was a protégée of Cristóbal Balenciaga before launching his own couture house eight years later. In 1953, Givenchy designed a white strapless organza gown for Audrey Hepburn in Sabrina, a design, which marked a continued collaboration and life long friendship with the actress. Givenchy designed pieces for Hepburn’s wardrobe in Funny Face (1957) and Breakfast in Tiffany’s (1961), including her character Holly Golightly’s renowned little black dress, featuring a thigh-high slit and a cut-out décolleté.
The thigh-high signature was a mark of Givenchy’s modern design aesthetic, which saw him use unusual fabrics, and pioneer shorter lengths and the ‘sack dress’ silhouette. Hepburn also starred as the face of Givenchy’s first fragrance, L’interdit, launched in 1957. The designer, who launched ready-to-wear in 1954, also established his menswear line in 1973.
Givenchy sold his label to LVMH in 1988, before retiring from fashion design in 1995. He has been succeeded by a host of imaginative and revolutionary figures, including John Galliano, Alexander McQueen and Riccardo Tisci. Clare Waight Keller was announced as the brand’s first female artistic director of the house in March 2017. After hearing news of the Givenchy’s death, Keller posted on Instagram ‘Not only was he one of the most influential fashion figures of our time, whose legacy still influences modern day dressing, but he was also one of the chicest most charming men I have ever met’.