Iconic French designer Givenchy dies at 91

20 2010 French fashion designer aristocrat and founder of Fashion label Givenchy Hubert de Givenchy poses before a speech at Oxford University Union Oxfordshire

Hubert de Givenchy, the French fashion designer who dressed Jackie Kennedy and Audrey Hepburn and whose name became synonymous with modern elegance, has died.

Celebrities who clamored for "the Audrey look" included actress Elizabeth Taylor, Princess Grace of Monaco and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.

The black sheath dress he created for the opening scenes of Breakfast at Tiffany's was perhaps the most famous "little black dress" of all time - even if fellow Paris fashion legend Coco Chanel is credited with inventing the garment.

But the client whose name would become nearly synonymous with the house was Hepburn, whom he met in 1953, when he dressed her for the romantic comedy "Sabrina".

Before starting in his own fashion line in 1952, Givenchy worked for fashion designer Elsa Schiaparelli. Instead the diminutive Audrey showed up, dressed in cigarette trousers, a T-shirt and sandals. Hers was the iconic little black dress.

Their friendship was based on much more than clothes, however, and Givenchy said he never tried persuade her to wear anything other than "what she liked and what she could wear". Grace Kelly was also a big fan of Givenchy's designs, having worn one of his tasteful green frocks during a visit to the White House. He went on to develop ready-to-wear and menswear collections, and his first perfume, L'Interdit (meaning "forbidden"), was created for Hepburn in 1957.

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In 1988 he sold it to luxury conglomerate LVMH and retired years later. After his retirement in 1995, Givenchy was succeeded by John Galliano as head designer.

Hepburn exhibited in Funny Face, among other movies, Givenchy's refined visions of sporty day clothes with sweaters and tailored trousers, understated tailoring with head scarves and short tweed skirts, as well as his grand occasion dressing.

Bernard Arnault, chief executive of LVMH, said he is "deeply saddened" by the death of the designer.

The iconic fashion designer passed away in his Paris home on Saturday, March 10.

Givenchy was born into a French noble family and was supposed to do law.

On holidays and at weekends he often retreated to his stone, moat-enclosed manor house in the countryside on the road to Tours, in western France, surrounded by Chinese, French and English antiques and fabrics of his own design.

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