One of the greatest couturiers in recent history.

He's retired-- which is just as well because if he were dead, he'd be turning in his grave. Designers like Givenchy bring to mind a bygone era where fashion was about clothing (but not just about clothing) painstakingly created by hand with great intelligence, insight, and detail. Today, the emphasis is more on who can turn out the next big thing that's assimilated by millions of women for a season and then forgotten.

Hubert de Givenchy was born in 1927 in Beauvais, France. He was interested in fashion from an early age, but was discouraged by his wealthy family. However, Givenchy would not be dissuaded, and continued to dream, and design dresses for the women that he saw in magazines. His ambition was to work for Cristobal Balenciaga whose work he greatly admired. The directrice of Balenciaga, however, would not even consider the young Givenchy for an interview.

He joined various other houses over the course of his career, and studied drawing at the Ecole des Beaux Arts. In 1952, he opened his own house and presented his first collection in 1953. It was an immediate success, and through it he was finally able to meet his idol, Balenciaga. Givenchy later said, "He was gracious, elegant, religious, simple, talented."

Balenciaga had so much of an impact on Givenchy that for forty years, he always appeared on the runway after his shows wearing the same white coat (similar to a lab coat). "M. Balenciaga gave it to me. It is like a talisman, a protection, a second skin."

He also met Audrey Hepburn, who had come to his studio to ask for some dresses to wear. Sabrina Givenchy remembered, "I was expecting Katherine Hepburn….imagine my joy and surprise when suddenly the door opened and there was this skinny girl standing there in gingham trousers and a big hat with a veil, looking at me with those amazing eyes. I gave her a dress and she never forgot. She has always been the best model."

Givenchy created Hepburn's look for Breakfast at Tiffany's, Funny Face, Sabrina, Charade, and How to Steal a Million.

His last show was on the same date but different year of Balenciaga's last show, as if to say, like his mentor before, "This age is no longer to my liking."