Hubert de Givenchy passed away on March 11, 2018 at the age of 91, leaving behind an incredible legacy as one of the best fashion designers in the world. His pieces were the epitome of elegance for more than four decades.
He was born in Beauvais, France, with fashion in his blood, the grandson of a tapestry-maker. This natural talent came to life when he undertook apprenticeships at the houses of Jacques Fath, Robert Piguet, and Elsa Schiaparelli before striking out on his own in 1952. Though no one anticipated the immense success he would become.
His most enduring legacy is found in the image of a young woman wearing a long, black dress and elbow-length gloves. It is the elegant dress worn by Audrey Hepburn as Holly Golightly in the opening scenes of Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961), and instantly made Givenchy a household name.
This iconic black dress played a huge part in Hepburn shooting to stardom as well, ensuring her enduring appeal as a style icon. “He is far more than a couturier,” Hepburn said of Givenchy. “He is a creator of personality.”
During a 1978 interview, in an attempt to explain the world-famous appeal of this dress, Givenchy said the allure was due to its high-quality sophistication: “a product in good taste—that is perhaps classic and well-made.”
“It’s a good silhouette—and it’s still the same,” said Hubert de Givenchy of Audrey Hepburn in 1978. “That long neck, the long legs, the charming face… Of course, she’s not 20 anymore, but the allure and the silhouette, they’re still the same.”
When the original masterpiece was sold at a Christie’s auction in 2006, it fetched an incredible US $923,187. This is an unbelievable sum of money, but the worth of his legacy is best judged in terms of how he has inspired generations of fashion designers ever since.
From Christian Dior to Calvin Klein, Givenchy clothes—with their pure, classical cuts flaunting a delicate workmanship—have inspired luxury fashion ever since.