End of an era: Fashion designer Givenchy passes away

Hubert de Givenchy, Dead at 91

Portrait of Belgian-born actress Audrey Hepburn (1929 - 1993) and French fashion designer Hubert De Givenchy, mid 1980s.

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 glamor.

"The House of Givenchy pays homage to its founder Hubert de Givenchy, a major personality of the world of French haute couture and a gentleman who symbolised Parisian chic and elegance for more than half a century", a post on the Givenchy Instagram account read, alongside a portrait of the designer.

But the designer is best known for the "little black dress" worn by Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany's. "His work remains as relevant today as it was then".

During her stay in the White House, Jacqueline Kennedy, former United States first lady, adopted the Givenchy look with a uniform of shift dresses, pillbox hats and low-heeled pumps. Blouses, skirts, jackets and pants combinations could be mixed and matched.

Working on a tight budget, Givenchy served up the floor-length skirts and country chic blouses in raw white cotton materials normally reserved for fittings.

When Hubert met Audrey Hepburn in 1957, both of their careers would be set in motion on the big screen and on the runway. Hepburn was also the face of Givenchy's first fragrance L'Interdit. Instead the diminutive Audrey showed up, dressed in simple cigarette trousers, a T-shirt and sandals.

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"To dress a woman is to make her handsome", Givenchy once said.

"To dress a woman is to make her attractive", the late designer, who resigned in 1996, once said.

Before the need to diversify the fashion industry became increasingly urgent with each decade passing, before it became commercially lucrative to include people of colour in ad campaigns and on the runway, and before inclusion became a "trendy" tactic employed by the industry to hush the voices calling them out, Hubert de Givenchy had black women modelling his collections at fashion shows as early as the late '70s.

Aiming to reach a wider market, Givenchy launched a line of upscale ready-to-wear and accessories in the 1960s. His successors were some of the youngest, most talented, creative minds that have worked in the fashion industry with the likes of John Galliano, Alexander McQueen, Julien MacDonald, and Riccardo Tisci, and now Clare Waight Keller.

The designer, who learnt his craft under Cristóbel Balenciaga, became a giant of the fashion world in every sense.

Givenchy is survived by his companion, French couturier Philippe Venet.

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