Hubert de Givenchy, the French couturier whose simple, elegant creations made him a favorite of famous women like Audrey Hepburn, Elizabeth Taylor, Grace Kelly, and Jacqueline Kennedy—women whose style trickled down to influence fashion in general throughout the 1950s and 1960s—has died, the fashion house that bears his name has confirmed. He died at home in Paris over the weekend, as The New York Times reports. He was 91.
Born into an aristocratic family, Givenchy was only 24 years old when he debuted his first collection in February 1952, introducing the concept of separates to women’s fashion for the first time. He was an immediate success, with one British fashion writer remarking, “these dresses remind you of that first, best glass of champagne.” Givenchy’s style was praised as a lighter, but still refined alternative to the tiny nipped waists and heavy fabrics of Christian Dior’s famous “New Look,” and off of his first collection alone Givenchy was able to pay off his creditors and take ownership of his own design house. He sold Givenchy in 1988 to a luxury-brand conglomerate, but stayed on until his retirement in 1995. He was succeeded by John Galliano, then by Alexander McQueen; Riccardo Tisci is currently head of the Givenchy label, which remains popular among celebrities to this day. (Chadwick Boseman and Gal Gadot both wore Givenchy to this year’s Academy Awards.)
But Givenchy’s most iconic celebrity collaboration was undoubtedly between its founder and Audrey Hepburn, who wore Givenchy designs in films like Sabrina (1954), Funny Face (1957), and Charade (1963) and remained a close friend of the designer’s until her death in 1993. Hubert de Givenchy also designed Hepburn’s iconic sleeveless black dress in Breakfast At Tiffany’s (1961), a garment that helped bring the idea of the “little black dress” into the mainstream, and created a fragrance called L`Interdit for her use only. The BBC quotes Hepburn as saying of Givenchy’s designs, “Givenchy’s lovely simple clothes [gave me] the feeling of being whoever I played.”
Givenchy is survived by his partner, fashion designer Philippe Venet. His family is asking that fans donate to UNICEF in his honor.