Invented by the legendary Coco Chanel, the world famous LBD changed fashion history forever! Here’s a brief history of the little black dress, as well as a few examples of how it has evolved over the years!
The outfits featured in this post are from Femme Luxe. Femme Luxe offers a fantastic range of white dresses, black dresses and denim shorts – which are perfect for building a timeless wardrobe or for finding that perfect LBD!
Chanel’s Little Black Dress
No other innovation in fashion design can overshadow the success of Chanel’s little black dress. Coco Chanel introduced this stylish creation to fashion at the right time – between the first and second World War, when bright colours and heavy cuts were dominant. The black sleeveless dress, which was originally created from wool for daytime wear and in crepe, satin or velvet for the evening, was a positive influence on the world of fashion. Later, other varieties of the little black dress appeared – short, sleeveless, in pleated black chiffon, in black lace, etc. It was designed to be timeless, flexible, accessible and in a neutral colour.
A History of the Little Black Dress
The first and last time a young Coco Chanel was spotted crying was in 1919, just before Christmas, the night Mademoiselle realised that the love of her life, Boy Capel, had been involved in a crash while on his way to see her. Capel blessed Coco with the freedom to create and not to live by the norms of the society of that time. According to urban legend, on the same tragic evening, she changed all the curtains, tablecloths and even sheets in her home to black. For a long time, Coco suffered over the loss of Boy Capel and told her close friend that the world should grieve with her. This is how the little black dress was born, which became the designer’s legendary, revolutionary trademark style.
How the Little Black Dress Changed History
In 1920, women began to renounce the Edwardian ideal of respectable femininity, and the newly acquired concept of individuality led to the new phenomenon of the “drinking woman” who dared to enjoy cocktails in mixed company. She would appear at private cocktail parties, soirees and parties, and is dressed in a cocktail dress – short with a suitable hat, shoes, and gloves. Before the LBD (little black dress), black dresses were worn only during mourning. It was considered bad taste to wear such a dark dress at any other time. It is for this reason that the Victorian era is called “dark” and “black”, because due to the many deaths, widows were required to wear black for at least two years. All this was changing thanks to Coco Chanel. In 1926, Vogue published a photo of Chanel’s little black dress and called it the “Chanel Ford”, just like the T model, it was available to women from all walks of life. Vogue then said that the dress was “something like a uniform for all women with taste.”
The little black dress remained popular during the Great Depression because of its simple elegance – you don’t have to spend a lot of money to look good and elegant. It was also preferred in Hollywood for movies because the black dress did not conflict with other colours on the screen, in the way that lighter coloured dresses might. By the end of World War I, French fashion depended heavily on American clientele and even more on American department stores, which copied en masse and thus encouraged French “créateurs.” Seeing as the “cocktail dress” originated in the United States, the French looked less at lines and length, and “la couturières” Chanel and Vionnet created clothing for the late afternoon, or so-called “after five.”
The Evolution of the LBD
During the post-war conservative era of the 1950s and early 1960s, the little black dress was quite a hit in society. Although still worn, it was seen as bolder than the alternative light blue dress, which was typically worn during this time and perceived as the colour of modesty and good manners. In 1960, the dress was revived and worn in a mini version by the younger generation, while the older generation reached for classic wraps, such as the one worn by Audrey Hepburn in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.” Since Chanel’s little black dress was first published in Vogue, its cut and length have changed constantly – from medium length to mini dresses in the 60’s, long with shoulder pads in the 80’s, to the grunge versions of the 90’s, as well as Princess Diana’s infamous “Revenge Dress”. The little black dress is timeless and susceptible to any style or time changes.
The black dress itself is magic. It is both simple and clean, as well as flawlessly flattering. The little black dress does not divert attention away from the wearer. Although stunning on its own, it enhances the look of the wearer and makes them appear radiantly beautiful! Maybe that was precisely Chanel’s goal – to be silent and perhaps that’s why it was invented – to be the garment for lazy occasions when we do not know what to wear. In fact, its simplicity turns the dress into a masterpiece precisely because it doesn’t steal attention from its wearer.
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