The Little Black Dress (LBD) was one of the most popular fashions of the twentieth century. Let’s see some awesome facts about it!
1. Fashion historians ascribe the origins of the little black dress to the 1920s designs of Coco Chanel and Jean Patou.
2. The designers intended the Little Black Dress to be long-lasting, versatile, affordable, accessible to the widest market possible and in a neutral colour.
3. Its ubiquity is such that it is often simply referred to as the “LBD”.
4. The “little black dress” is considered essential to a complete wardrobe by many women and fashion observers, who believe it a “rule of fashion” that every woman should own a simple, elegant black dress that can be dressed up or down depending on the occasion.
5. In 1926 Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel published a picture of a short, simple black dress in American Vogue. It was calf-length, straight and decorated only by a few diagonal lines.
6. Vogue called it “Chanel’s Ford”
7. The dress caused an instant uproar in the fashion world. Choosing black as a fashionable color was itself startling. Before Chanel, black clothing was associated with either the clergy or servants, or with mourning.
8. The little black dress continued to be popular through the Great Depression, predominantly through its economy and elegance, albeit with the line lengthened somewhat.
9. As Technicolor films became more common, filmmakers relied on little black dresses because other colors looked distorted on screen and botched the coloring process.
10. During World War II, the style continued in part due to widespread rationing of textiles and in part as a common uniform (accessorized for businesswear) for civilian women entering the workforce.
11. The rise of Dior’s “New Look” in the post-war era and the sexual conservatism of the 1950s returned the little black dress to its roots as a uniform and a symbol of the dangerous woman.
12. Hollywood femme fatales and fallen women characters were portrayed often in black halter-style dresses in contrast to the more conservative dresses of housewives or more wholesome Hollywood stars.
13. One of the first celebrities to popularize the little black dress was the cartoon character Betty Boop, the squeaky-voiced, well-proportioned creation of animator Max Fleischer.
14. Wallis Simpson, the American who married the former king of England in 1937, also wore the dress and reportedly said, “When the little black dress is right, there is nothing else to wear in its place,” as quoted by Valerie Mendes.
15. The woman who, according to expert Amy Holman Edelman, “made the little black dress an art form,” was actress Audrey Hepburn.
16. She wore a little black dress designed by Hubert de Givenchy in the role of free-spirited Holly Golightlyin the1961 film Breakfast at Tiffany’s.
17. The popularity of casual fabrics, especially knits, for dress and business wear during the 1980s brought the little black dress back into vogue.
18. The grunge culture of the 1990s saw the combination of the little black dress with both sandals and combat boots, though the dress itself remained simple in cut and fabric.
19. The new glamour of the late 1990s led to new variations of the dress but, like the 1950s and the 1970s, colour re-emerged as a factor in fashion and formalwear and repeatedly shows an aversion to black.
20. By the end of the twentieth century almost every major designer from Ralph Lauren to Donna Karan had included a little black dress in their clothing lines.
21. Amy Holman Edelman, who devoted an entire book,The Little Black Dress, to Chanel’s creation, has called the dress “emblematic of a woman’s freedom of choice, her equal participating in the world and her declaration that, this time, she is dressing for herself.”
22. The Little Black Dress, though, has roots from the 16th century! Anne Boleyn famously wore an all black velvet frock, and, back in her day, that meant a lot of dark, expensive dye was needed to get a saturated shade.