The Little Black Dress

Created alongside André Leon Talley, (an editor for Vogue), the ‘Little Black Dress’ exhibition, recounts the global fashion phenomenon, known as the ‘little black dress’, (or LBD). The exhibition presents fifty different little black dresses, including those created by renown designers, and those worn by A-listers featured in the International Best Dressed List. Not only is the exhibition pleasing to the eye, but also recounts the changing status of what the LBD has and does represent, and the new ways that modern designers seek to create a contemporary and new form to the classic clothing item.

Shopping in Paris

shopping parisSo having basked in the glory that is the LBD- what exactly is it? Surely all black dresses are the same? Black, and a dress no?

Well, essentially, yes. A little black dress is a simply cut evening or cocktail dress, that is more often than not, short in length. A LBD must be simple, elegant, and have the versatility to be dressed up or down, dependent on the occasion of usage; (Dare I say it, typically Parisian chic!).  As a garment, it is seen as a wardrobe staple, and a ‘rule of fashion’; that every woman should own one of said timeless dresses.

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Further examples of some of the dresses on show at the American Center

Despite most recognizing the term ‘Little Black Dress’ (LBD), few know of its origins.

Viola! A Quick History of The LBD:

So where did all this black dress paraphernalia come from? And why did something so simple, become such a pivotal fashion moment?

The answer? Its been already given away! SIMPILICITY.

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Beyonce flaunting her famed curves in a LBD earlier this year

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High-street copy of Beyonce’s LBD (shown above)
Available from ASOS.com- €71

Before the 1920s, wearing black, other for an occasion of mourning, was inexcusable, and those who wore a black dress, were those recently widowed. The turning of the black dress, from something that represented death, to something sought-after, and attractive, was thanks to Coco Chanel, and her ‘Chanel Ford’ simple, short black dress published in American Vogue.

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The dress was dubbed as a Ford car, like the Model T, because Chanel’s and Jean Patou’s designs were intended to be long-lasting, affordable, versatile and

accessible to women from all social classes, with Vogue quoting that the LBD would become “a sort of uniform for all women of taste”.

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The auctioned dress that Audrey Hepburn wore in ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’

One of the most iconic LBD was the Givenchy dress, worn by Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, where she played Holly Golightly. Designed by Hubert de Givenchy, it sparked the trend of wearing one’s ‘Little Black Dress’ with pearls in the 1960s, and in fact, is a classic look that continues to trend.

When Hepburn’s dress worn in the film was auditioned in 2006, it sold for an astonishing £410,000- six times at which it was originally estimated at!

These days, both designer and high-street shops alike, are brimming at the seams with LBDs. Thus fulfilling its purpose of being a timeless vetement accessible to all that Coco Chanel first aspired to achieve, nearly 100 years ago.

Merci beaucoup France!

The Little Black Dress exhibition runs from Wednesday 03 July 2013 to Sunday 22 September 2013, and is held at Avenue de New-York,
 75016, Paris.

Tickets are €5-7 each (children are free), and is open Wednesday to Sunday (11am-6pm).

Click here for further details: http://en.parisinfo.com/paris-show-exhibition/95319/Little-Black-Dress,-exhibition

Some images courtesy of Google

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