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Article 08 - April 26, 2010
Back to Chic Weekly

 

FASHION CULTURE & HISTORY

The History of the Little Black Dress

By Ushoshi Mookerjee

(Students ages 11-15 compete in making the "Perfect Black Dress" in 5 hours from start to finish.)

My sister and I were strolling around a department store, seeking the perfect dress for her much anticipated homecoming dance. We rummaged through heaps of multi-colored frocks and cocktail gowns. Too short. Too long. Too skimpy. The rejections gave us little hope. We gave another blasé stare when I caught sight of a black lacy number with a unique embroidered neckline buried in the debris of average tees and jeans. Out of sheer desperation, my sister plunged into the fitting rooms. Out she came, with a twinkle in her eyes. The Little Black Dress was a success, as it has always been in the past decades.

            Originating from the designs of the iconic Coco Chanel, the Little Black Dress (dubbed LBD) has been a signature style for over eight decades. How has this simple dress remained the avant-garde of fashion throughout the long years? The answer lies in its versatility.

         You can wear it to a high-profile cocktail party, to a cozy family gathering, or perhaps to a casual day of shopping. It never looks out of place!

      This love-affair with the little black dress began in 1926, when Ms. Chanel published an unembellished black dress in Vogue magazine. Women all over the world were captivated by its simplicity and rushed to acquire this piece of elegance into their wardrobe. Earlier it was the privilege of the rich who owned it as a sartorial statement. However, during the Great Depression the color and the shortness of the dress reflected the somber mood of the times, and swung into being a cultural favorite. 

Though the LBD remained largely monochromatic, the decoration and the cut were altered significantly over the next few years. New designs erupted in the 1950s when women gained feministic values, resulting in a wave of fresh looks such as the belted, the boat necked, and the lace-edged dresses.  In 1961, when Audrey Hepburn was seen in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, wearing a hip-hugging LBD, accessorized with vintage pearls, she became a symbol of stunning beauty to women worldwide. By the late 80s, many women wore leather Little Black Dresses, emitting a “dangerous” vibe while others sported ruffled peplum dresses. These styles have been seen reminisced in today’s world of fashion.

Currently, celebrities like Angelina Jolie, Beyonce, and Emmy Rossum have flaunted the figure-clinging black gowns, sequined or plain, to movie premiers. Although, the media never fails to harangue the divas for a fashion misstep, the LBD has been proven to be successful in having a sliming effect on any body type and warding off harsh criticism. Even the over-the-top Lady Gaga, with her penchant for the extreme, debuted a Thierry Mugler-inspired origami little black dress. And who can forget the chic First Lady, Michelle Obama, donning a figure-flattering black dress, complete with a double strand of pearls, on her visit to Ghana?

Timeless grace and subtle flair have been the inspiration behind the little black dress over the generations. In the ever-changing world of fashion, it has shown pure resilience.

 

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Contributors: Ushoshi Meekerjee
 
copyright 2010 Love To Sew
Article 08 April 26, 2010

 

 

 
 

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