The Little Black Dress

“She’s late. She gets home and sees her guests have already arrived. A moment of panic arises until she slips on her little black dress, dabs on some scent, pats her chignon into place, and clips a string of pearls around her neck. She’s perfect.” – Didier Ludot, The Little Black Dress – Vintage Treasure

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Like Christian Dior, you too may consider the little black dress “the most essential thing in any woman’s wardrobe,” but when you slip on your go-to LBD, did you know you’re wearing a piece of history?

I didn’t realize the extent to which the little black dress had made its mark until reading Ludot’s The Little Black Dress – Vintage Treasure. This book is about one quarter text and three quarters pictures, both of which shed light on the journey of this simple yet profound article of clothing.  Although Miranda Priestly’s monologue on cerulean in The Devil Wears Prada is a bit smug and over the top, she has a point in that there is a deep history behind every garment. I learned quite a few things from The Little Black Dress – Vintage Treasure, and I’m here to share the highlights with you:

BEWARE THE LITTLE BLACK DRESS

1. The little black dress should not be mistaken as just another wardrobe staple.

“By some mysterious alchemy, the little black dress embodies the woman who wears it like a second skin.” 

2. The little black dress is powerful in ways we can’t quite understand.

“They say black absorbs the contours, but it’s a magnet for the eyes.” 

3. The little black dress is unsuspecting.

“As we see it through the kaleidoscope of memories, the dress becomes the very essence of the woman.”

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EVOLUTION OF THE LITTLE BLACK DRESS

1926

Chanel brings the color black out of mourning and introduces the “Ford” dress, which quickly becomes the uniform of the modern woman.

1930’s

Hemlines may change, but the little black dress is here to stay.

1940

The little black dress joins the resistance. Despite the scarcity of fabrics, the LBD endures as a symbol of patriotic chic.

1945

War is over and the little black dress is just getting started. Haute couture is reborn and the LBD becomes the uniform of the existentialist movement.

1947

Christian Dior presents his first post-war collection, complete with the little black number, the “Diorama” dress.

1953

Two words: Audrey Hepburn.

1957

The little black dress goes back into mourning with the death of Christian Dior.

Early 1960’s

Film is dominated by the little black dress. “It was in the torment of those years that [the LBD] revealed its true nature: it was indestructible.”

Late 1960’s

The little black dress becomes the emblem of the young jet set – think Studio 54.

1970’s

Peace, love, and the little black dress. Despite the Flower Power fashion movement, the LBD holds its ground.

1980’s

Black returns with a vengeance and for a long time to come with the help of Karl Lagerfeld.

1990’s

Miuccia Prada hits the scene. “The dress returned to its place of honor in every fashionable wardrobe. Mothers’ and daughters’ tastes in fashion could strengthen, broaden, and converge around the little black dress.”

2000’s

The little black dress obeys no standards, resists every fad, is fashion incarnate.”

Photographed by Angie Webb of Suburbanite Photography

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2 comments

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