February is Little Black Dress Month!
The Glamorous Assistant’s First Blog
‘A style does not go out of style as long as it adapts itself to its period. When there is an incompatibility between the style and a certain state of mind, it is never the style that triumphs.’ Coco Chanel.
The Power of The Little Black Dress.
I’ve spent the last half an hour stressing over something attention grabbing to call this… I just decided to get on with it when I was contemplating changing my name to Victoria, because I thought ‘Victoria and Halbert’ was ever so witty. So now, it is no surprise I’ve given up on the ‘cool’ title idea and just decided to get on with ‘Cara’s first blog’ which is going to be all about LBDs, because Jade’s come up with the fabulous idea of making February ‘Little Black Dress’ month. By the way, I’ve been recruited as Jade’s ‘glamorous new assistant/intern’ so Hello! Hopefully Jade will like this so I can safely say you’ll be hearing more from me.
So, yes – little black dresses, THE essential piece to every woman’s wardrobe! EVERYONE should have at least one or a few. If anything, they suit everyone and can be worn in so many different ways, anytime, anyplace. Remember how fantastic Audrey Hepburn looked as Golightly in hers? There is a reason LBD is at the top of every fashion essential list. I’m not bored yet, and I still think they are the greatest item fashion has ever seen. There’s so many different takes on the little black dress and no matter whether your style is punk, preppy or just no style at all I guarantee there’s a dress in this world you put on and it will make you look and feel amazing. Have you found it yet?
How many celebrities do we see on the covers of magazines dressed in black nowadays? It’s almost a certainty that at every award show the place could be mistaken for a funeral party for influx of LBD wearers, if it weren’t for the trophies, red carpet and flashing cameras. Nowadays, how amazing and classy does Davina McCall always look? It’s not that hard to look classy though, when you’re on the same show as the kind of people that go on Big Brother. But seriously, she always looks great, and she nearly always wears an LBD. Edith Piaf, the French singer was notorious for performing only in black, and was nicknamed ‘little black sparrow.’ When I think LBD I think glamour, sophistication, and the only fashion term men actually understand (and hopefully appreciate).
Obviously, little black dresses are most commonly associated with Gabrielle ‘Coco’ Chanel who designed a simple, calf-length dress in 1926 which was featured in Vogue, who were right when they predicted that the LBD would become ‘a uniform for all women of taste.’
As fashions have changed LBDs have been lengthened, shortened, blinged up, cut up and the rest. If something can be done to a garment, it’s probably more likely to work, and look good on a classic LBD. Like all of Coco’s designs the LBD was a success and completely changed the way black was seen as a wearable colour; up until then it was more commonly associated with mourning and Victorian widows.
Of course, Hollywood pounced on the little black dress. As Technicolor became more prevalent filmmakers relied on the LBD to inject that vital je ne sais quoi as other colours looked strange of the screen. During and after World War II when women were making an impact on the workforce, black was seen as a business colour, and the LBD stayed strong as designers toyed with different fabrics and shapes.
The ‘sexual conservatism’ of the 1950s seemed to give the LBD a sexy edge and very often in Hollywood movies, the femmes fatales and damsels in distress would wear sexier and skimpier styles of the LBD, such as halter-neck or strapless styles.
Synthetic fibers made popular in the 1940s and 1950s broadened the availability and affordability of many designs and it’s the same nowadays. You can pay over £5000 for genuine Chanel Couture fitted pencil dress, or less than a tenner for a similar style in Primark!
Like everything in fashion, LBDs became declasse for a bit. They were popular from the roaring twenties to the fifties but as mod style became more popular in the early 60s, girls would wear shorter miniskirts. Designers such as Yves Saint Laurent and Balenciaga soon clicked on to this and the LBD became several inches shorter and would be more common with sheer fabrics like netting or tulle to give it a bigger, shorter shape.
Of course The Summer Of Love in ’69 saw the little black dress swapped for more colourful counterparts and classic well cut black dresses were not synonymous with the ‘do it yourself’ ideologies of the late 70s punk scene, with the exception on Zandra Rhodes’ typically punk take on the classic style.
During the 80s neon was preferred on catwalks (as well as some dodgy haircuts!) so black would not have stood out in a society of fluorescent fashion. But it was when casual became cool and the fitness obsession and ‘Cool Britannia’ came about in the 90s, that the little black dress was thrown right back where it belonged, in the pages of Vogue, where models sported tight fitting knit dresses which were perfect or day to night dresses. The American grunge scene of the 90s saw LBDs accessorized with chain belts and studs, and thrown on with biker boots and leather jackets in a ‘too cool’ kind of look.
But of course, as fashion always does, LBDs have recycled themselves time and time again, and are synonymous with couture catwalks and high streets today. So look yours out and accessorize it well! You can never go wrong with OTT diamonds or subtle pearls. And if you don’t have one, get yourself in to The Dresser’s Room and we will find you one. FEBRUARY is Little Black Dress month, and I can’t wait. Us girls are going to have so much fun!
Love Love Love,
‘Look for the woman in the dress. If there is no woman, there is no dress.’ Coco Chanel.