The little black dress has been one of the staples of women’s wardrobes for many decades. Most public figures from different countries of the world give preference to this gorgeous clothing item. Despite its popularity worldwide, few people know that this luxurious wardrobe item had to go through a serious competition and fight for its position.
In 1926, Vogue published a photo of the first “Little Black Dress” that became the prototype for many luxurious outfits in various collections of fashion designers. The model whose photo helped popularize the little black dress wore a black dress designed by the legendary style icon and trendsetter Coco Chanel. The garment was actually a simple gown with crocheted fabric and long narrow sleeves complemented by a laconic and noble accessory, a string of white pearls. Fashion geniuses of the time claimed that this style would soon become a kind of “uniform” for any woman with style who strived to look formal and elegant at the same time. However, this opinion was not uniformly accepted by the public.
For the sake of justice, it is worth noting that Chanel did not actually invent this famous clothing item. In fact, she only popularized it and gave it a second life — a more luxurious one. It is known that the idea of the little black dress came to her mind quite spontaneously. It is believed that it all started when the designer visited the ball of the “Petit le Blanc” with her friend who was in love with her. She disliked most of the women’s colorful outfits that were not even age-inappropriate in some cases and emphasized the defects of their bodies.
The key factor of people’s disbelief in the success of the LBD, as it is commonly referred to, was related to the word “uniform”. Even before the 19th century, dark fabrics were considered to be the prerogative of the lower-class population. People of lower classes gave preference to simple, discreet and easy-to-repair garments. They could not afford to buy clothes that were made of velvet, brocade, furs, silk and other luxury materials, or bright colorful canvases that were used to decorate the dresses and suits of the aristocracy. Sometime in the 60s, black became the universal color of uniforms for servants. These were simple models supplemented with white shirts and aprons for men and women respectively. In those days, few people knew that dark shades were a sign of solidity, luxury, piety and prosperity a few centuries ago. This was due to the fact that black dyes were quite expensive back then. The invention of synthetic dyes made this color more accessible to the lower-class population. Clothes of dark shades quickly found their firm places in the wardrobes of low-income people. Then black returned to the wardrobes of rich ladies whose dresses differed from ordinary people’s dresses in cut and the amount of fabric.
Nevertheless, many designers of the 30–40s fell in love with Chanel’s design. In 1930, Josephine Baker introduced a somewhat extravagant model that had a shortened bottom and was richly decorated with peacock feathers. It was recommended to wear such a dress with a narrow cap, boa or a string of pearls, which are the best accessories for the little black dress even today.
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