Fashion icon Hubert de Givenchy (91) dies

Hubert de Givenchy with audrey hepburn

The star remained his friend and muse for more than 40 years.

Fascinated by Spanish-born Cristobal Balenciaga, who was at that time the dean of Paris designers, Givenchy presented himself and his sketchbook at Balenciaga's door, only to be turned away with a curt "Mr. Balenciaga sees no one".

An aristocrat and a towering talent who stood 6 feet 5 inches tall, Givenchy founded his fashion house in 1952 at age 24 to immediate success.

Hubert de Givenchy, the founder of eponymous brand and the French fashion designer who defined what has come to be known as the golden age of elegance has died, aged 91.

"Then she arrived, so graceful, young and bubbly and dressed like a young girl would be today", he said of her two years ago as an exhibition about their friendship, "To Audrey with love", opened in the Dutch capital, The Hague. "He will be greatly missed", the House of Givenchy said. Givenchy also designed clothes for her in the 1957 film "Funny Face". In 1995, the designer declared that retires. Venet added that Givenchy died in his sleep Saturday. Venet launched a menswear collection in the 1990's, according to Fashion Encyclopedia. Along the way, he built up a major fortune which he leaves behind at death.

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His family has requested donations in lieu of flowers be made in his memory to UNICEF, a charity that Hepburn worked tirelessly for.

Givenchy's favourite model, publicist Bettina Graziani, became the fashion muse for his first collection. "He lived very grandly", Jody Donohue, Givenchy's NY press agent in the 1990s, told the Los Angeles Times. This look, similar to that of Hepburn's dress in Sabrina, is still a considered a staple on the red carpet.

When Hepburn was diagnosed with terminal colon cancer, he was the one who arranged her travel to Switzerland on a private plane owned by Bunny Mellon, the Listerine heiress who had married financier Paul Mellon. Givenchy described her as an unbelievable human being. There [was never] any criticism of the other person, no upsets ...

With her shift dresses, pillbox hats and low-heeled pumps, former US First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy also adopted the Givenchy look during her White House years.

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