Other dresses may come and go, but the LBD is forever
NOV 13, 2015 | by Cessi Treñas, Art by Alexandra Lara
Meet fashion’s black horse-turned-game changer and the contemporary woman’s favorite fashion fail-safe, the little black dress. An unrivaled force in the sartorial sphere, this dark little number has withstood the times and taken on multiple forms. From Chanel’s blousy crepe-de-chine innovation to Ms. Hepburn’s iconic Givenchy moment, we look back on this style staple’s ironically colorful history.
A two-dimensional vision of a blousy, knee-length silken frock was featured in Vogue’s October 1 issue. This 1926 illustration belonged to Coco Chanel, whose designs had not yet achieved the haute couture status they carry today. Before the 1920s, black had been written off as a color reserved for mourning.
Not even womenswear could escape the effects of the second World War. In the early 1940s, black dresses took on a utilitarian edge with boxy cuts and simple silhouettes. In 1946, Dior launched its memorable post-war New Look—think hourglass figures, voluminous skirts, and just a hint of decolletage.
Audrey Hepburn charmed the world in Breakfast at Tiffany’s with her timeless beauty and Hubert de Givenchy’s sleeveless creation in 1961. Following Ms. Hepburn’s biggest onscreen feat were stylish tweaks to the classic black dress: Chanel-inspired rope pearls and the eventual welcoming of shorter hemlines. In 1985, Karl Lagerfeld, who had been hired as Chanel’s chief designer, breathed new life into the fashion house’s signature black frocks. Flash forward to 1994, and our eyes are graced by a fearless Princess Diana stepping out in her daring revenge dress. While most women would choose to shy away from the public eye after their husbands admit to adultery, Diana opted to slink into a form-fitting, shoulder-baring number.
The little black dress continues its unshakable reign today, with some of fashion’s biggest names offering a twist to the famed frock: Diane Von Furstenberg with her signature wrap dresses, Saint Laurent with hints of leather, and Balmain with unapologetic embellishments. A red carpet habitué and universal style statement, it’s safe to say that this vixen of a dress is here to stay.
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