*This blog has moved. Please click here to read this popular post at its new improved domain.* The tagline for LG Fashion Week in Toronto this season is The Power of Style. The home page for the LG Fashion Week website shows a woman in a little black dress surrounded by a sea of vibrant red chairs. The image is appropriate as both the colour red and the LBD are perfect symbols of power in dressing.
Studies show that men respond to red more favourably than any other hue for various anthropological reasons that we won't go into here...
The little black dress, Invented by Coco Chanel in 1926 and favoured by the designer in part for its ability to hide stains, was the first evening gown of its shade to be worn outside of a funeral. Always with practicality and women's best interests in mind, Chanel believed in the simplicity and timelessness of the style, rebellious as she was against what she saw as the garish clash of colours on the designs of the day.
Matching the simplicity of the colour was the restraint in design. The garment was made to be dressed up or down making it suitable for almost any occasion, day or night. When the designer unveiled the first little black dress, American Vogue dubbed it her "Ford," because of its affordability and accessibility.
The dress had the benefit of seasonless versatility--the colour black could be worn year round and the simple elegance it reflected began to make the corseted bodices and full skirts of the time look old-fashioned. Chanel's intuitive sense of the future of fashion which saw her introduce the LBD also helped her surpass leading designer Paul Poiret who criticized her innovation chiding: "What has Chanel invented? De luxe poverty."
And that was the whole idea. Chanel knew the time for displaying one's wealth in her choice of clothing was coming to an end. She considered such displays vulgar and, as we saw in the last post, fighting vulgarity was Chanel's raison d'etre.
Illustration of Chanel's LBD in Vogue October 1926