Remembering Hubert de Givenchy: Indian fashion fraternity pays tribute to the ‘absolute genius’

The French couturier breathed his last at the age of 91 in Paris. Here, Indian fashion designers remember the charmer of romantic fashion, who made Audrey Hepburn his muse and the little black dress iconic.

fashion and trends Updated: Mar 14, 2018 16:17 IST
Snigdha Ahuja
Snigdha Ahuja
Hindustan Times
Givenchy,Hubert de Givenchy,Audrey Hepburn
In this file photo taken on October 21, 1991 Hubert de Givenchy (L) is seen with actor Audrey Hepburn — the designer’s muse for almost four decades.(AFP/ Pierre Guillard)

There are very few people who keep design alive forever,” says designer Gaurav Gupta, remembering Hubert de Givenchy, the icon who immortalised the little black dress, took Hollywood actor Audrey Hepburn to fashion stardom, and dressed former first lady of the USA, Jacqueline Kennedy, among many other fashion royalties.

Givenchy breathed his last at the age of 91 in Paris, on Saturday. His partner, designer Philippe Venet said he passed away in his sleep.

Perhaps the sight of Hepburn in the iconic black dress with a beautiful cut-out back seen in the opening scene of Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961) will always be synonymous with the romantic elegance that Givenchy championed. In an Instagram post, the current artistic director of Givenchy (the fashion house), Clare Waight Keller, remembered the founder. “His work left an incredible mark in Paris Haute Couture and created the dream of French elegance. I will never forget the first sight of that dress nor the very first and unfortunately [the] last time I met him in person, at his home in Paris. A man of such grace and stature, he was a gentle genius in his understanding of the power of simplicity,” she wrote.

Givenchy died in his sleep at the age of 91, in Paris. Here, he is seen during the start of his career in the 1950s. (AFP)

For Gupta, Givenchy epitomised passion. “These were the couturiers who upheld the romance and passion of art — personal and professional — to the discipline of fashion and couture. His love of cotton and his design philosophy of simplicity was pivotal in influencing the cycles of fashion at large. He never forgot the power and purity of understated elegance. The sheer sense of following your spirit and his undying belief in beautiful, universal design will stay with me for a long time,” Gupta says.

Remembering the ‘absolute genius’, designer Suneet Varma says, “Mr Givenchy was the very last word in French couture of the old world. When I was working at YSL (Yves Saint Laurent) in Paris, just out of design school, the Givenchy atelier was just down the road and I would often see him walking in and out looking preoccupied — probably dreaming up some incredible couture ideas. He was an absolute genius and will remain relevant in fashion forever.”

For designer Rahul Mishra, there couldn’t have been a greater inspiration. “A master creator, he was influenced by the great Cristobal Balenciaga. In India, in the 50s and 60s, the fashion we saw in films was inspired by the shapes and style of Givenchy’s iconic dresses. He was truly a big influence in global fashion, with creations that could be appreciated by one and all.” For designer Ritu Beri, he simply personified true class. “Count Hubert James Marcel Taffin de Givenchy was a favourite of my mother and so I grew up hearing about him from her. He was most famous for having designed much of the personal wardrobe of Audrey Hepburn who was a real style icon. A cut above the rest he epitomised elegance and true class: He was a real trendsetter.”

First Published: Mar 14, 2018 16:13 IST