How the Little Black Dress Came to Be

Here's the story behind your wardrobe staple.


Fashion's enduring love affair with the little black dress started with Coco Chanel. An undying symbol in French chic, the LBD was once worn only by women in mourning—that is, until the Roaring Twenties.



Throw things back until you hear the Prohibition's signature blare of jazz horns and clicking flapper heels. In 1926, American Vogue published a simple, elegant illustration of the visionary Chanel's original LBD design. One look and the world was hooked.



Girbal Edith Piaf label Columbia 78X120 Girbal


It remained popular even through the Great Depression, with women from every economic background finding its sleek darkness all too flattering. Even the most glamorous entertainers took to it; perhaps the most notable example would be iconic French songstress Édith Piaf, whose little black dress became her trademark while warbling early hits La Vie En Rose and Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien on stage.




And so we hit the Swingin' Sixties, which opened ever-so-memorably with Audrey Hepburn's melancholic morning stroll to Tiffany's in that black Hubert de Givenchy sheath. Holly Golightly made the LBD a must-have in its current modern sense—after all, who wouldn't want to drip with diamonds and get kissed by George Peppard in the pouring rain (lost cat inclusive)?



Back to 2017, and there are absolutely countless reiterations of the little black dress to spy on every store hanger and atelier window. Before you get carried away with the season's flashier trends, remember that there is beauty in a blank canvas: a fallback is only boring if you allow it to be. Classics aren't classics for nothing.


This story originally appeared on Minor edits have been made by the editors.

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