French fashion designer Hubert de Givenchy, an aristocrat who founded the house of Givenchy in the 1950s, becoming famous for dressing the likes of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and Grace Kelly, has died at the age of 91, the Givenchy label said on Monday.
A commanding presence in fashion from the moment he presented his first collection in Paris at the age of 24, Givenchy became synonymous with elegance and an insouciant glamour. He designed the black dress Audrey Hepburn wore in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”.
His family — his father was the marquis of Givenchy — had hoped their son would become a lawyer but the young man, who stood 1.96 metres (6 feet 5 inches) tall, was drawn to fashion and design from a young age, moving to Paris to study at 17.
His hallmark creations, including balloon-sleeved blouses and calf-length trousers with flared hems, were hailed in their time as airy alternatives to the tight waists and artificial curves of the then-dominant “New Look” of Christian Dior.
His first collection — unveiled in 1952 — won recognition the day it was presented: Givenchy rang up 7 million francs (approximately 1 million euros) of orders, enough to allow him to pay off his backers and assume ownership himself.
His interest in fabric sprang from a childhood familiarity with fine textiles at the home of his maternal grandfather, who was an administrator for the Beauvais and Gobelin tapestry industries and a collector of quality fabrics.
The designer’s father died when Hubert, born in Beauvais, north of Paris, was two years old. He and his brother were brought up by their mother and her parents.