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'Little black dress' designer Givenchy dies aged 91

Update: March, 13/2018 - 12:30
French fashion designer Hubert de Givenchy set the template for ladylike chic in the 1950s and 1960s. — AFP Photo
Viet Nam News

PARIS — Hubert de Givenchy, the aristocratic French fashion designer famous for the "little black dress" and styling Audrey Hepburn and Jackie Kennedy, has died aged 91, his partner said on Monday.

Givenchy set the template for ladylike chic in the 1950s and 1960s, dressing everyone from Princess Grace of Monaco to Jane Fonda.

His longtime partner, the former haute couture designer Philippe Venet, announced his death through the Givenchy fashion house, saying he had died in his sleep on Saturday.

"It is with huge sadness that we inform you that Hubert Taffin de Givenchy has died," it said.

With his perfect manners and old-school charm, the tall and handsome count was the very acme of French elegance and refinement.

But it was his 40-year friendship with his muse Hepburn, whom he met while she was making Billy Wilder’s Oscar-winning comedy Sabrina in 1953, that helped make him a fashion legend.

The narrow-collared suits and slim woollen dresses Givenchy designed for the gamine actress in Funny Face and How to Steal a Million made both of them style icons.

"Hubert de Givenchy was a symbol of Parisian elegance for more than half a century... who revolutionised fashion," his label said on Monday.

Legendary Italian-born creator Valentino said that he had tried to get a job with Givenchy when he was 17.

"Unfortunately he did not hire me... but I kept admiring his vision, his perfection of cut and elegance. Like me he always respected the woman’s body, never inflicting what was cool but only what was flattering."

Another Italian fashion great, Giorgio Armani, described Givenchy as "the symbol of that exquisitely Parisian joie de vivre, that has the lightness of intelligence and the aristocratic elegance of couture."

Givenchy’s current British-born designer Clare Waight Keller said that its founder was "not only 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," she said.

Givenchy was forced to retire in October 1995 when his contract was not renewed by the giant LVMH group which had bought his house nearly eight years earlier.

He was replaced by John Galliano, who was soon to leave for Dior, handing over to fellow Brit Alexander McQueen. — AFP

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