SHARE
COPY LINK

OBITUARY

French fashion designer Hubert de Givenchy dies aged 91

Hubert de Givenchy, the aristocratic French fashion designer famous for the "Little black dress" and styling Audrey Hepburn and Jackie Kennedy, has died aged 91, his partner said Monday.

French fashion designer Hubert de Givenchy dies aged 91
Hubert de Givenchy in Paris in 1978. Photo: AFP
Givenchy set the template for ladylike chic in the 1950s and 1960s, and his restrained style still informs the way Britain's Queen Elizabeth II and older American and Chinese socialites dress.
   
His partner, the former haute couture designer Philippe Venet, announced his death through the Givenchy fashion house, saying he had died in his sleep on Saturday.
   
The pair lived in a Renaissance chateau near Paris.
   
“It is with huge sadness that we inform you that Hubert Taffin de Givenchy has died,” it said in a statement to AFP.
   
It was Givenchy's 40-year friendship with Hepburn, who he met on the set of the Billy Wilder's Oscar-winning comedy “Sabrina” in 1953, that helped make him a fashion legend.
 
READ ALSO:
 
   
 
The narrow-collared suits and slim woollen dresses Givenchy designed for the gamine actress for “Funny Face” and “How to Steal a Million” made both of them style icons.
 
The black sheath dress he made for the opening scenes of the “Breakfast at Tiffany's” was perhaps the most famous “little black dress” of all time — although fellow Paris fashion legend Coco Chanel is credited with inventing the garment.
 
It was also the Givenchy look that former US first lady Jacqueline Kennedy adopted for her White House years, sticking to a uniform of shifts dresses, pillbox hats and low-heeled pumps.
   
The red coat she wore on the campaign trail for the 1960 presidential election was a Givenchy copy.
   
On a state visit to France the following year, Kennedy made a famously grand entrance in a Givenchy white silk faille dress at a state dinner at the Palace of Versailles, looking as regal as any European monarch's consort.
 
   
 
“Hubert de Givenchy was a symbol of Parisian elegance for more than half a century,” his label said Monday.
   
“He was the first creator to launch a luxury ready-to-wear range. He revolutionised international fashion in creating the timeless looks for Audrey Hepburn, his friend and muse for more than 40 years.”
   
Fashion mogul Bernard Arnault, head of the giant LVMH group which now owns Givenchy, led the tributes, saying that “he was one of the creators who put Paris at the summit of world fashion in the 1950s.”
 
Born in 1927 in Beauvais, France, Givenchy studied at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris.
 
His first job in the fashion industry was when he worked for Jacques Fath in Paris in 1945. He then worked for Robert Piguet and Lucien Lelong in 1946, and finally for Elsa Schiaparelli (1947-1951).
 
He opened his own house in 1952. In 1988, Givenchy sold his business to LVMH but remained head of design until his retirement in 1995.
 
He was loved by the fashion world from his very first collection. 
 
In 1952, the New York Times magazine published an article entitled “A Star Is Born” and l’Album du Figaro also wrote a feature stating that “In one night, Hubert de Givenchy became one of fashion’s most famous children with his first collection.”

OBITUARY

French billionaire Serge Dassault dies aged 93

One of France's richest men, Serge Dassault, died on Monday after suffering a suspected heart attack, his family said. He was 93.

French billionaire Serge Dassault dies aged 93
Serge Dassault. Photo: AFP
Dassault, head of aviation, media and software giant Dassault Group, was a titan of the French business world who served as a right-wing senator and a scandal-plagued mayor of a town south of the capital.
   
France's third wealthiest person in 2016 — with a net worth estimated by Forbes magazine at $14.8 billion (12.7 billion euros) — died in his Paris office on the Champs-Elysees on Monday afternoon, his family said.
   
Dassault is best known as the principal stakeholder of Dassault Aviation, which has made a series of famed French planes, including the Falcon business jet, the Mirage fighter and the country's most cutting-edge military jet, the Rafale.
 
“France has a lost a man who dedicated his life to developing a jewel of French industry,” French President Emmanuel Macron said in a statement that came amid a flurry of tributes. 
   
Nicolas Sarkozy, whom Dassault strongly backed when as France's president, paid tribute to a “friend” who he said was a “visionary able to anticipate the 
world to come without losing the meaning of the present.”
   
Dassault, a workaholic who is survived by four children and his wife Nicole, also owned France's biggest-selling right-wing newspaper, Le Figaro.
 
Serge Dassault (C) with Nicolas Sarkozy (R) in 2005. Photo: AFP
 
Wealth from war
 
The Dassault family's business empire was founded by his father Marcel, an aeronautical engineer and celebrated inventor who developed a propeller used in French planes during World War I. 
   
Marcel survived the Buchenwald death camp during World War II after being sent there by occupying Nazi forces because he refused to put his skills at their disposal.
 
Arrested along with the rest of his family by the Gestapo as a teenager, Serge narrowly avoided deportation and would go on to pursue studies at elite French universities before entering the family business in his twenties.
   
He finally succeeded his father after his death in 1986, taking the helm of the family group at the age of 61 when most people are thinking of retiring.
   
Defying opposition from the French government, which doubted that he was up to the task, he developed Dassault at a time of consolidation in the European 
aerospace industry and severe competition from US manufacturers. 
   
The Rafale plane, in use in the skies above Iraq and most recently during French strikes on chemical weapons installations in Syria, is considered one of the world's most advanced fighter jets.
 
Photo: AFP
 
Scandals and corruption
 
As well as his business interests, Dassault pursued a political career like his father — leading to scandal.
 
In February this year, he was convicted of tax fraud for hiding millions of euros in Luxembourg, Liechtenstein and the Virgin Islands.
 
Dassault was spared jail because of his advanced age, but he was fined two million euros and barred from holding elected office for five years. 
   
In April 2014, he was also charged with vote-buying, complicity in illegal election campaign financing and exceeding campaign spending limits over his terms as mayor in the Parisian suburb of Corbeil-Essonnes.
   
The case revealed a shocking series of allegations including extortion, cash circulating in plastic bags and even shootings. 
   
Dassault, a social conservative who once called gay marriage “an enormous danger to the country”, was mayor of the town from 1995 to 2009. 
   
In 1998, Dassault received a two-year suspended prison sentence in Belgium for bribing members of the country's Socialist Party to win an army helicopter contract in what became known as the Agusta scandal.
   
His death will lead to speculation over who in the family will succeed him as head of his company.
   
His son Olivier is a rightwing lawmaker in parliament but Dassault has had often strained relations with his offspring — again like his father Marcel who was often harsh with his sons.
   
“When I started in the company I sensed that it irritated him,” Dassault once said of his father in an interview with VSD magazine.
SHOW COMMENTS