Winters Past

20th Century Fashion from Deco to Disco

In Style for a Century: The Little Black Dress

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:

little black dresses, a fashion history

20’s:Chanel, 30’s: Josephine Baker, 40’s: Bacall and 50’s:Monroe

little black dresses, a fashion history

1960’s & ’70’s: Audrey Hepburn’s iconic Givenchy dress, Catherine Deneuve, the Supremes and Jackie O

little black dresses, a fashion history

1980’s and ’90’s: Lady Di, Madonna, SJP and Carolyn Bessete Kennedy make the clavicle an erogenous zone

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:

little black dresses at Winters Past

Author: Winters Past

I am a vintage clothing shop owner living and working in rural north Florida. I believe in adding a little vinegar and molasses to my greens, having my coffee outside whenever possible, and mixing something vintage into every room and every outfit.

Comments are closed.