Fashion Designer Hubert de Givenchy Dies at 91

Hubert de Givenchy - Getty - H 2018
Henry Duke / Contributor/Getty Images

The French designer, best known in Hollywood for his relationship with Audrey Hepburn, also dressed Elizabeth Taylor, Jackie Kennedy and Greta Garbo.

Fashion designer Hubert de Givenchy, founder of the house of Givenchy, died Saturday at his home. He was 91. 

The French fashion house confirmed the news on social media on Monday morning, remembering the late designer as a "major personality of the world of French Haute Couture and a gentleman who symbolized Parisian chic elegance."

Current creative director Clare Waight Keller, who joined the house in 2017 following Riccardo Tisci's 12-year stint, wrote of Givenchy 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 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." 

A French aristocrat, Givenchy founded his label in 1952 at age 25 after four years under Elsa Schiaparelli and brief stints alongside Christian Dior and Pierre Balmain. Early in his career, he garnered attention stateside for his artist-muse relationship with Audrey Hepburn, with whom he also developed a close personal relationship, forging a bond between Hollywood and haute couture that still thrives today. "I’m as dependent on Givenchy as some Americans are on their psychiatrist," the actress once said.

The pair first met in 1953 when Sabrina director Billy Wilder sent Hepburn to the young designer's Paris atelier to take in the culture of haute couture as research for the Paris-based scenes in the film. Hepburn and Givenchy worked together extensively following their first encounter; he was responsible for the little black dress she wore in Breakfast at Tiffany's and received costume designer credit for most of her contemporary films, including Love in the Afternoon, Funny Face and Charade, though not for Sabrina, for which Edith Head ultimately received the best costume designer Oscar, though some debate whether it should have gone to Givenchy.

In addition to Hepburn, Givenchy also dressed screen darlings of the '50s and '60s, including Marlene Dietrich, Elizabeth Taylor, Greta Garbo and Grace Kelly, as well as Jackie Kennedy. During that time, his name was synonymous with ladylike luxury. He made the simple crisp white shirt chic and was a master of the little black dress.

In 1988, Givenchy sold his house to LVMH, the luxury conglomerate that owns Louis Vuitton, Dior, Fendi, Chloe, Kenzo and more. Since then, John Galliano, Alexander McQueen and Julien MacDonald have all cycled through as lead designer.