Last week I was asked to write a piece about the Little Black Dress. A staple in any woman’s closet, The Little Black Dress has an interesting history involving icons, war, “Sex” and even safety pins. The Little Black Dress first originated in 1926 with Coco Chanel. The first archetype was silk, calf-length, straight, and decorated only by a few diagonal pin-tucks as decoration. American Vogue dubbed it the Chanel “Model T”, because like the original automobile, it was simple and accessible for woman in various social classes. Vogue further predicted that the LBD would become “a sort of uniform for all women of taste.”
Interestingly, prior to the 1920’s the color black was only for women in mourning. However, due to the number of fatalities in WWI, in addition to the overwhelming fatalities during the Spanish flu epidemic, it became more common for women to appear in public wearing black.
With help from Hollywood, (black was the color of choice for film making during this period as the color would not be distorted on the infant technicolor film), the LBD grew in popularity. Further more, during World War II, when women began entering the workforce, and a widespread rationing of textiles existed, the Little Black Dress became the uniform of choice for the new legion of civilian working women (with accessories of course).
In 1961, Hubert de Givenchy inspired women with his sexy black sheath dress worn by actress Audrey Hepburn in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s“. Then after a decade of sparkle and sequins in the 1970’s disco era, the LBD experienced a resurgence in popularity during the 1980’s. Remember Tatiana Thumbtzen in Michael Jackson’s “The Way You Make Me Feel” video? I wanted nothing more as a teenager than to look like that in the fashionable tube dress.
In the 1990’s where grunge and heroine chic ruled, Elizabeth Hurley’s famous safety pin Versace gown dazzled us while she escorted then boyfriend Hugh Grant. Closing out that decade, the gals from Sex And the City personified the LBD and how woman wore them.
After a fall from grace with certain designers at the start of the millennium, the color black ruled the runway for Fall 2008. Be it the bleak economic out look, or a newfound appreciation for the Little Black Dress, they’re here to stay.
Per Nothing Fancy’s request, I have some LBD’s for your consideration.