Since Coco Chanel introduced it in 1926, the little black dress has become the epitome of timeless fashion. It is the answer to every “What should I wear to…” question from cocktail parties to holiday parties.
As a concept, the little black dress has even moved on to represent an ideal of a perfectly simple, yet sexy object. Some people think luxury is the opposite of poverty. It is not. It is the opposite of vulgarity. Coco Chanel
All the famous innovations in fashion and design cannot outshine the fame of the single Chanel Little Black Dress. Coco Chanel introduced it in a time between the wars, when the bright colors, prints and heavy embroideries dominated the fashion.
During the 1920s, newfound concepts of individuality and a repudiation of the Edwardian matronly ideal of respectable womanhood gave rise to the new phenomenon of the “Drinking Woman,” who dared to enjoy cocktails in mixed company . She emerged at private cocktail soirées and lounges, and the cocktail dress, as a short evening sheath with matching hat, shoes, and gloves was designated to accompany her.
The long-sleeved black dress, which was initially made for day in wool, and for evening in crepe, satin or velvet, shook up the world of fashion. Later appeared the other variations of a little black dress: short, sleeveless, in a pleated black chi on, in black lace…
In 1926 American Vogue named Coco Chanel black dress “a Ford”, meaning it’s simplicity and it’s potential for an enormous and long-lasting success. It was the little black dress of Chanel, that inspired the famous remark of her competitor Paul Poiret: “What has Chanel invented? De luxe poverty.”
The cocktail a air generally took place between six and eight P.M., yet by manipulating one’s accessories, the cocktail ensemble could be converted to appropriate dress for every event from three o’clock until late in the evening. Cocktail garb, by virtue of its flexibility and functionality, became the 1920s uniform for the progressive fashionable elite.