The Little Black Dress first made its appearance in May 1926 in an American issue of Vogue. It was a small pen and ink sketch of the calf length silk dress by Gabrielle ‘CoCo’ Chanel. Vogue compared the dress to Ford’s shiny new black motor car, both sleek, stylish and available to the masses. The dress suddenly caused uproar in the fashion industry as the colour black was previously associated with servants or morning.
“Simplicity is the keynote of all true elegance. (Gabrielle ‘CoCo’ Chanel) To her modesty was the chicest way of proclaiming one’s superiority. she wanted to get rid of everything that put women at the mercy of convention, that got in their way, that slowed them down.” Edelman (1997 p20)
Chanel is now known as the creator of the Little Black Dress but it was not until 1961 that it really took off when the young Audrey Hepburn wore the definitive Little Black Dress in Breakfast at Tiffany’s designed by Hubert de Givenchy. This was not the first black dress Givenchy had designed for Hepburn, he also created two other successful pieces for the actress to wear in her films Sabrina 1954 and Funny Face 1957 but it was the iconic Breakfast at Tiffany’s dress that was named their chic style master piece. It was an instant hit and started a new craze for women in the 60’s.
Black appealed to Chanel with its practical nature, her attachment to the colour is said to be related to her moaning the death of her true love Arthur ‘Boy’ Capel. Some people say that her ‘desire to put the world into moaning for him’ led her to create the Little Black Dress. (Edelman 1997 p24).
Life in the 20‘s had started to change waist lines and the bust disappeared along with a shorter hem. For those who could afford it, they attend themed parties, balls and took lavish trips. With the crash of the stock market in 1929 and The Great Depression in the 30’s fashion had to become more accessible for every class. Jersey which was normal saved for mens underwear was used in clothing, with serve economical turmoil the need of simplicity and durability was a must. The women of the 30’s loved Chanel’s chic Little Black Dress that could be dressed up and down with little accessories no more than a string of pearls and high heels. With a social divide still present the Little Black Dress brought the middle classes and high society women together in fashion and made them equals.
“Thanks to me they [non-wealthy] can walk around like millionaires” (Gabrielle ‘CoCo’ Chanel)
The 1960’s was a decade that broke many traditions, new fabrics were brought out for making dress’s, skinny jeans worn by Audrey Hepburn become a new popular style for both men and women. Film and Hollywood also played a part in fashion, what people saw on the screen they recreated on the street. Paramount had their own in house costume designer Edith Head up to 1967 when free lance designers where used for the films clothing. Hepburn first introduce Givenchy to the sliver screen in...