The Little black dress. AKA an LBD or LBN- if you prefer (a little black number). The LBD said Vogue was the ford of the fashion world. Ford’s model T car, “you can have any colour you like as long as its black”, famously said Ford was rolling to the end of its production line when Coco Chanel immortalised her first little black number. Coco’s LBD was to become a genre of fashion in its own right, so chic, so versatile and so simple that no respectable wardrobe should be without.
The LBD is everything. It can be very little. Almost austere in its simplicity, without adornment, its cut so severe, it makes all the statement. It can be very big. Dramatic, sensual with fabric and texture, accessorised to hold the wearer and the audience in awe. You see, it’s all in the interpretation. It is a garment that does not need to shout. It says it all by virtue of its classic heritage, its very simplicity of colour and design. Its very purpose is to lend its wearer an air of demure sophistication. Sometimes with an added spice of mystery. It is the iconic symbol of one of the fashion world’s most stylish creations.
Miucci Prada once said that “ Fashion is a language of its own”, and in this language The Little black dress has a syntax and grammer that is completely unique. The LBD is and will always be one of fashions most defiant, enduring and captivating creations.
In a shift away from excessive lyricism and the unnecessary clutter of the time, Coco Chanel brought to life “the little black dress” in the early twenties. The launch of the LBD contrasted with the gaudiness of the “roaring 20s”; an era known for glittering excess and flapper frou frou. Coco’s launch of the LBD gave women emancipation from the fussiness, fringes and frivolous fashion that society had been obsessed with. Clean lines, classic cut and simplicity brought relief from the gaudiness that the world had grown tired of. The LBD became their evening uniform.
Prior to the launch of the LBD, black was only to be worn during times of mourning and was considered to be a colour that concealed a woman’s attributes. First appearing as a sketch in the pages of Vogue in 1926 the LBD soon evolved into a dress that “women could not live without.” Its creation was a revelation as it encouraged women to embrace this austere and audacious garment.
For me there are very few garments that have continued to hold such an esteemed place in a woman’s wardrobe and psyche. It is a statement of power and sophistication and is a woman’s equivalent to a business suit. When a woman wears a black dress she has demands, dreams and desires. She is dressing to be heard. A black dress turns a woman into a goddess. It has an aura of mystery; a captivating allure and it has the power to seduce. Coco Chanel is the curator and inventor of one of the 20th century’s greatest fashion phenomenon. She was fascinated by black; it was entrenched in her soul. “Black was her childhood” Her inspiration for the iconic dress grew from the demure palette and simple lines of the school uniforms she saw growing up as an orphan in a convent in rural France. She wanted her creations to be imitated in the streets.
The little black dress has become immortalised in time. One of the most iconic LBD’s was worn by Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s She wore a slender, fitted black dress designed by Hubert de Givenchy which represented a generation of young women yearning to be a free-spirit by defying society’s rules. She was both sexy and stately. A woman of mystery but not to be messed with. She belonged to no one.
A woman dressed in black draws attention to herself, not to her dress. The Little black dress has stood the test and has become “a sort of uniform for all women of taste “It provides its wearer with an instant glove of classic sophistication. It is a fashion staple that embodies simple elegance and cosmopolitan glamour like no other and it is an essential item to every woman’s wardrobe.
“Even when we are told black is démodé-black remains always becoming, always distinguished”-Vogue