By Megan McDonough | The Washington Post
Hubert de Givenchy, a French designer whose fashions influenced haute couture in the 1950s and ’60s and transformed his close friend, actress Audrey Hepburn, into a style legend, died March 10 at 91.
The death was announced by artistic director of Givenchy, Clare Waight Keller. No other information was immediately available.
For more than four decades, Givenchy bridged the American and Parisian fashion worlds, designing effortlessly chic clothes that adorned European royalty and Hollywood stars. He clothed Greta Garbo, Marlene Dietrich, Grace Kelly, Lauren Bacall, Elizabeth Taylor and some of the world’s most fashionable women, including first lady Jacqueline Kennedy and the socialites Rachel “Bunny” Mellon and Catherine “Deeda” Blair.
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“Givenchy has long been a classicist, one of the last of the old school of haute couture, where gorgeous clothes were made for a woman to live in, not to decorate her,” fashion journalist Dana Thomas wrote in The Washington Post in 1995. “His clothes moved with a woman’s body, rather than restricted it.”
The precociously talented, darkly handsome, 6-foot-6 designer was only 25 when he opened his own atelier in Paris in 1952. His debut collection was one of the earliest ready-to-wear, high-end fashion lines.
“Paris had been occupied by the Nazis and French fashion had been pretty much beaten in to the ground,” said Valerie Steele, director and chief curator of the Fashion Institute of Technology Museum in New York. “He was one of the leading French courtiers in a period in which couture made a triumphant resurgence.”
Givenchy thought mix-and-match separates, including interchangeable dresses, light skirts and chic tops, offered women more versatility with their look and choices in creating their own style. Operating on a shoestring budget, he created a handful of styles out of inexpensive men’s shirting material for his first collection and asked customers to select their preferred fabric.
The crisp, embroidered, full-ruffled “Bettina” blouse (named in honor of the late model Bettina Graziani) was an instant hit. By the end of the first day of business, the store reportedly rang up 7 million francs (about $14,000 in today’s dollars).
An account by the New York Times called Givenchy’s collection “one of the most phenomenal debuts in the Paris couture.”
Givenchy’s fashioning of and relationship with Hepburn was often regarded as …read more
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