17 October 2011

Black in Fashion

Black in Fashion
Year after year, season after season, there is one fashion element that never looses its status. A chic symbol of elegance and grace, what is it about black that gives it such influential power?

The idea of black in relation to superstition brings on feelings of unease, discomfort and paranoia. Just think of black Friday, black cats or the black Sabbath and suddenly you’re running for the door, leaving your brand new grey Chanel, ‘Tote,’ bag sprawled across the floor for anyone to claim. When we reference the colour black to things like cars, leather and coffee however, it’s a whole different ball game. Suddenly the dark shades of the objects resemble power, status, drive and an early morning wake up call we couldn’t get through our hectic schedules without. Then we move to fashion, or more specifically the concept of black in fashion. “It is the most popular, the most convenient and the most elegant of all colours. And I say colour on purpose, because black may be sometimes just as striking as a colour. You can wear black at any time. You can wear it at any age. You may wear it for almost any occasion,” said Christian Dior in his book Christian Dior’s Little Dictionary of Fashion.  

Fashions come and go, one season’s trend that is so willingly adopted by fashionistas everywhere, (mustard and burgundy anyone?) will eventually be placed in that, “Oh my god what was I thinking?” pile. There is one crucial fashion statement however, that remains no matter what is strutting its way down the catwalk. Black. No matter what haute couture collection you lust over, boutique store you shop at or fashion bible you read, without fail, every collection will have its little black dress, shirt or skirt. So what is it that gives black the power and status to never grow old? Why is it that one season everyone is wearing chartreuse and the next its rust orange, yet somehow, for some unknown reason, we continue to feed our inner black darkness.
“There is some unexplainable feeling that wearing black creates, it’s chic, polished and beautiful.”                                                                                     
Alexander McQueen Fall 2011 Ready-To-Wear

If there is one essential item that adorns just about every women’s wardrobe, one element that fashion experts all around the world would agree as the most crucial component to any clothing collection it would be the little black dress. It has a series of books named after it, a movie, a store, a CD, and even museum exhibitions. Its worldwide eminence and recognition is such that many refer to it by acronym. LBD. The celebrity status of the LBD is confirmed by the fact that when you type ‘little black dress’ into Google you will be bombarded with over 51, 600, 000 results. The little black dress is so influential it has become a symbol for chicness and elegance, the holy grail of fashion pieces. It is the most power piece of clothing you can own. The odds are you all have one, or three, hanging somewhere in your wardrobe. It’s the dress you pull out and pair with pearls or a scarf when you want to feel chic. The one you pair with a jacket and sensible pumps to go to the office. The little black dress is the one you wear with nothing but some killer stilettos when you want to feel irresistible. Wallis Simpson, the Duchess of Windsor was once quoted saying: “When the little black dress is right, there is nothing else to wear in its place.”

The tradition of the little black dress and the idea of understated chicness, has managed to survive decade after decade and remains on top of the fashion hit list. The sixties youth quake brought with it one of the most iconic little black dresses of all time. Breakfast at Tiffany’s anybody? That’s right it was Audrey Hepburn’s Holly Golightly, in her sleeveless black number, exaggerated pearl necklace and oversized sunglasses standing gracefully outside Tiffany’s and Co. The legendary film, granted both Audrey Hepburn and the LBD a place in the unofficial Style Hall of Fame.

Dior Fall 2011 Ready-To-Wear

The singular little black dress has now multiplied into three, four or even five must have frocks, but it doesn’t stop at dresses alone. Add to the pile the skirts, shirt, pants, bags and shoes and suddenly it seems the chicest wardrobes of them all rarely venture outside of the basic colour wheel. There is some unexplainable feeling that wearing black creates, it’s chic, polished and beautiful. It is evident however, that not only have style confident individuals eagerly adopted the concept of wearing black over time, but they have also accepted the representations and connotations associated with wearing the colour. One such characteristic, it seems, is that black is predominantly a city colour. “Yes black is definitely a city colour and the bigger the city the more black that is seen,” says Fashion co-ordinator of Mercedes Benz Fashion Festival and successful stylist, Liz Golding, who describes the London Underground as a “sea of black” and Melbourne as “a vision of stylish darkness.” The cities around the globe seem to have attracted a loyal band of chic, stylishly dressed-in-black voguish types. The city somehow creates this ideal that to fit in, to be one of them you need to dress in black and of course no one objects, because lets face it who wouldn’t want to be a part of the chic, stylish world that the city portrays?”

Today with its resolutely urban associations, black continues to serve as inspiration for contemporary designers. The Fall 2011 Ready-To-Wear, collections once again saw the return of our favourite colour. “The world is a dark place,” acknowledged Karl Lagerfeld after the last exceptional Chanel display, which featured statuesque models, dressed head to toe in black, gliding their way down the dark and eerie catwalk. Among those following suit was Alexander McQueen and Christian Dior, whose collections, despite showing more colour, or in McQueen’s case a strong contrast of angelic white, both focused on the dominant element of black.
Chanel Fall 2011 Ready-To-Wear

We live today in the latest decade of the little black dress, which is as sure of its appeal now, as Mademoiselle Coco Chanel was some eighty years prior. The simplicity that made it so shocking back then is exactly what has allowed it survive all the varying changes in the fashion world and become the reference point for the, ‘Little Black Wardrobe,’ we love oh so very much today.

Chanel Fall 2011 Ready-To-Wear

Images: Style.com


  1. Congrats on being part of Links a la Mode!

    Best, Jenny


  2. What a beautiful post. I like how you compare and contrast the differences of the colour black in the cultural world and the fashion world. It's so interesting, isn't it, that a colour, can have opposite meanings?


  3. This is really an eloquent and well written post on the role of a colour in fashion and our love affair with it. You have chosen some fabulous pieces from different designers to illustrate your points as well. Congrats on being part of Links a la Mode.

  4. A friend passed this on to me because she knows I love black and it's pretty much my color of choice for any occasion. This is so well written in terms of both grammar and fashion lingo. I'm definitely bookmarking this to go back to when I think I need more color in my life.

  5. "There is one crucial fashion statement however, that remains no matter what is strutting its way down the catwalk. Black." << SO INCREDIBLY TRUE

    The thing about black in fashion is that it shares the meaning with those superstitions and cars. One dress can make you look deader than Morticia's sister while another tells everyone that your are tougher than nails. Their only similarity? The color black.

    That's why it's my favorite fashion color. The 'Little Black Wardrobe' - LOL because that's mine. I've tried to bring in greys, whites and bits of color but sometimes it feels forced. I think because deep down, I know black is the only color for me :-D

  6. Thanks so much for all the comments guys... glad to know im writing about stuff you guys want to read..
    Love Love C&C xxx