The Little Black Dress, or LBD, as it is affectionately called has become a staple in many women’s wardrobes because it tends to be highly versatile and appropriate for all sorts of occasions. As a rule, fashion dresses are somewhat easier to wear than separates because all a woman needs to do is put a dress on and dash out the door as there is no coordination of separate garments involved. However, there is something special about ‘little’ dresses that are black. In fact, the Little Black Dress has achieved such a level of popularity nowadays that it is often referred to as having an iconic status.
But what is so special about fashion dresses of the ‘LBD’ variety? Well, apart from being versatile and easy to wear, they possess a certain mystique that is reminiscent of the inky-hued garment made famous by Audrey Hepburn in the movie ‘Breakfast At Tiffany’s’. Somehow, the LBDs of today manage to embody the glamour of the Hepburn original but this is not simply by virtue of being black. Certainly, the fact that this iconic dress is black helps contribute to its attractiveness because black pretty much goes with everything and is a very popular hue to wear these days. But aside from the popularity of the shade, the allure of the Little Black Dress is largely due precisely to the indefinable quality that it has, a quality that the French refer to as ‘Je ne sais quoi’ or ‘I don’t know what’ – a phrase that regrettably does not sound quite the same in English.
Nevertheless, while Audrey Hepburn brought the LBD into the limelight, it was originally Coco Chanel who first saw its potential. Givenchy, the designer of Audrey’s gown for the film, gave the Little Black Dress its fame but it actually originated in the 1920s. During that decade, Coco Chanel took the black pigment that was traditionally reserved for mourning clothes in the West and made it into fashion dresses that any woman could wear. Add to this the simplicity and modernity of line that was characteristic of Chanel’s approach to dressmaking and you’ve got the recipe for the super-success of the LBD.
That being said, it also takes the woman wearing it to make a Little Black Dress ‘shine’. In actual fact, it could be said that it is the woman who should be the true star of the show, so to speak, and not the dress itself. A good garment always acts as a backdrop for the wearer’s face and personality and should neither overpower nor detract from their appearance. In this sense, the LBD takes a supporting role: helping the woman to feel confident that she looks good in what she is wearing and leaving her free to be a star. That is what makes the Little Black Dress truly special!