Nearly 100 years ago, Coco Chanel created an idea that became emblematic of Gallic chic: the Little Black Dress, or LBD. It was inspired by widows’ mourning dresses, worn by Edith Piaf as she sang about love and loss and remains a symbol of stylish sophistication.
In the 30’s and 40’s, Hollywood gave us Film Noir, in which a femme fatal clad in a simple black sheath meant danger and mystery, adding to the LBD’s mythology. In the 50’s, a black cocktail dress provided an elegant contrast to the more girly, kittenish fashions of the day. Each era has reinterpreted it; hemlines, necklines and embellishments change but the allure of the LBD remains.
Here is a little tour of LBDs through the 20th century:
In the modern fashion era, there is very little distinction between age groups when it comes to fashion; toddlers and their grandmothers can wear the same outfit. However, the LBD is one of the few garments created specifically for a grown woman. Black dresses express a mature sensuality, which is part of their allure.
Miuccia Prada says, “To me, designing a little black dress is trying to express in a simple, banal object, a great complexity about women, aesthetics, and current times.”
Here are just a few vintage LBDs I have in the shop right now: