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French fashion designer Givenchy dies at 91

PARIS, March 12: French couturier Hubert de Givenchy, a pioneer of ready-to-wear who designed Audrey Hepburn's little black dress in "Breakfast at Tiffany's," has died at age 91.

The house of Givenchy paid homage to its founder in a statement as "a major personality of the world of French haute couture and a gentleman who symbolized Parisian chic and elegance for more than half a century."

"He revolutionized international fashion with the timelessly stylish looks he created for Audrey Hepburn, his great friend and muse for over 40 years," the house of Givenchy said. "His work remains as relevant today as it was then."

Givenchy was part of the elite cadre of Paris-based designers including Christian Dior, Yves Saint Laurent and his mentor, Christobal Balenciaga, that redefined fashion in the wake of World War II.

A towering man of elegance and impeccable manners, he forged close friendships with his famous clients, from Hollywood screen sirens of the likes of Liz Taylor and Lauren Bacall to women of state, including Jackie Kennedy and Princess Grace of Monaco.

Born into an aristocratic family in the provincial city of Beauvais on Feb. 21, 1927, Givenchy struck out for Paris in his late teens, in the wake of World War II.

Couturier Jacques Fath hired Givenchy on the strength of his sketches. He spent two years learning the basics of fashion design, from sketching to cutting and fitting haute couture styles.

After apprenticing with other top names, Givenchy founded his own house in 1952.

His debut collection ushered in the concept of separates — tops and bottoms that could be mixed and matched, as opposed to head-to-toe looks that were the norm among Paris couture purveyors.

Working on a tight budget, Givenchy served up the floor-length skirts and country chic blouses in raw white cotton materials normally reserved for fittings.

"Le Grand Hubert," as he was often called for his 6-foot, 5-inch (1.96 meters) frame, became popular with privileged haute couture customers, and his label soon seduced the likes of Gloria Guinness, Wallis Simpson and Empress Farah Pahlavi of Iran.

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

Legend has it that Givenchy — told only that Mademoiselle Hepburn would be coming in for a fitting — was expecting the grand Katherine Hepburn. Instead, the diminutive Audrey showed up, dressed in cigarette pants, a T-shirt and sandals.

Thus began a decades-long friendship that saw Givenchy dress the star in nearly a dozen films, including the 1961 hit "Breakfast at Tiffany's." The sleeveless black evening gown she wore in the movie, complete with rows of pearls, elbow-length gloves and oversized shades, would end up becoming Givenchy's most famous look.

Aiming to reach a wider market, Givenchy launched a line of upscale ready-to-wear and accessories in the 1960s. Its commercial success soon enabled him to buy out his backers, making him one of only a handful of Paris couturiers to own their own label outright.

In 1988, he sold the house to French luxury conglomerate LVMH, the parent company of a stable of top fashion labels that now includes Dior, Celine, Marc Jacobs, Pucci and Kenzo.

Givenchy retired in 1995, and was succeeded by John Galliano, Alexander McQueen, Julien Macdonald, Italy's Riccardo Tisci and its current chief designer, Clare Waight Keller, the first woman in the role.

Waight Keller, at the helm of the brand since last year, said on her official Instagram account she is "deeply saddened by the loss of a great man and artist I have had the honor to meet."
"Not only was he one of the most influential fashion figures of our time, whose legacy still influences modern day dressing, but he also was one of the chicest most charming men I have ever met," she wrote.

Bernard Arnault, CEO of LVMH, said he is "deeply saddened" by Givenchy's death.

"He was among those designers who placed Paris firmly at the heart of world fashion post 1950 while creating a unique personality for his own fashion label," according to a statement released by LVMH.

Givenchy is survived by his companion, French couturier Philippe Venet.

28 % drop in US student visas to Indians in 2017

WASHINGTON, March 12: There was a massive decline of 28% in the number of student visas issued by the United States to Indian students in 2017, according to new state department data.

The total number of F-1 student visas issued by the US fell by 17% from 417,728 in 2016 to 393,573. Indians accounted for the largest drop— from 65,257 in 2016 to 47,302 in 2017. The number of Chinese students fell by 24%, which was because of a 2014 visa policy change specific to the country. Without China, the overall number fell by 13%.

China and India are the top two countries of origin for foreign students, followed by South Korea, Saudi Arabia and Canada.

The Wall Street Journal, which first reported the new state department data on Monday, attributed the overall fall to stricter admissibility rules mandated by the Trump administration, which required consular officials to ensure students planned to return to their home countries after finishing their studies.

The WSJ report said the changes were reflected in the Foreign Affairs Manual, which is an official guide for consular officials. A state department spokeswoman told the Journal that the guidelines were changed as part of a review of the rules mandated by an executive order signed by Trump in 2017.

“The president’s mandate requires us to rigorously enforce all existing grounds of inadmissibility and to ensure subsequent compliance with related laws after admission,” the spokesperson said.

Earlier reports and surveys of US universities had noted a significant drop in admission applications. However, it could not be confirmed whether the number of visas issued could have declined because of fewer applications.

“Nearly 40% of US colleges are seeing declines in applications from international students, and international student recruitment professionals report ‘a great deal of concern’ from students and their families about visas and perceptions of a less welcoming climate in the US,” the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers had said, announcing preliminary findings of a survey of 250 colleges at the end of the application period for enrolment in 2017.

The decline in the number of foreign students had started before Trump took office — it came down from 644,233 in 2015 to 471,728 in 2016. The trend has been ascribed to high tuition costs and the state of the job market in the US.

Swedish Ambassador Klas Molin Felicitates Sustainable Lifestyle Challenge Winners

By Deepak Arora

NEW DELHI, March 6: The Embassy of Sweden on Tuesday felicitated the winners of the seven days challenge for the best innovative ideas for sustainable living. Krishi Bhat and Manvi Jain, both from the Amity International School, Vasundhara, Sector 6, Ghaziabad, were announced as winners at a ceremony held at the Swedish Ambassador’s residence.

Krishi Bhat was awarded for developing a herbal eco-friendly, cost effective sanitary pads in response to the growing concerns of sustainability of the commercial sanitary napkins.

Manvi Jain was selected as a winner for Bees wax cloth wrap, which is reusable and bio-degradable and eliminates the use of foil papers and cling foil.

The seven-day Challenge was held from January 17 to 23, inviting youth between 14-24 years of age in Delhi NCR to practice sustainable lifestyles focused on three categories: EAT, MOVE and LIVE.

The event was organised by the Embassy of Sweden in partnership with TERI School of Advanced Studies and Eco-Club initiative of Department of Environment, Government of NCT of Delhi.

The event was part of the Embassy’s 11th edition of The Sweden India Nobel Memorial Week.

As many as 1,330 students participated from Delhi NCR and more than 300 innovative ideas were received.

Some of the other innovative ideas were Sustainable Development Mobile Application, Intelligent dustbin, Calcium from eggshells, Affordable slippers, Alarm in the mobile phones for completion on charging, Organic charcoal, Dustbin with a hemispherical top, Cars run on super conductors and Microfrost.

Klas Molin, Ambassador of Sweden to India said, “We are overwhelmed by the innovative and creative solutions we received for sustainable living. Today’s young generation has a great potential to enact positive change and such challenges help combining their creativity and dynamism to achieve a sustainable future.”

Dr. Leena Srivastava, Vice Chancellor of TERI School of Advanced Studies, said, “Out- of-the- box thinking is what we were looking for from our young competitors of the Seven Days challenge and that is what we got! Responses of the kind we received assure us that planet Earth’s future will be more sustainable than the state in which earlier generations are leaving it in.”

The challenge aided in encouraging both innovation and awareness about lifestyle choices that contribute to sustainability not only for 7-day but beyond for a lifetime.



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