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A Raven Beauty: Little Black Dress Tale

Amy D. Jackson
Staff Reporter

The little black dress (LBD) is as delectable as Lindor Truffles. Long before the genesis of Chanel’s aesthetically pleasing design, the black dress was reserved for periods of mourning. One of the most famous mentions of a dress in “mourning black” was by Lord Byron. Byron took inspiration for his famed poem “She Walks in Beauty” from his cousin Mrs. Wilmot. Wilmot wore a mourning dress of spangled black. For many years the LBD represented a time of mourning for a lost loved one. It wasn’t until 1926, that Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel created the black dress as we know it today. It was termed lovely by Vogue as “Chanel’s Ford.”
In the 1950’s, after Dior’s “New Look” explosion, Hollywood would exploited the LBD as dangerous. It was often worn by femme fatales. Ms. Simpson, Duchess of Windsor, had nothing but praise and adoration for the LBD. She was even quoted saying “when a little black dress is right, there is nothing else to wear in its place.” The LBD was also greatly appreciated by Edith Piaf, the French songstress, who also performed in a simple black sheath throughout her career. This earned Piaf the nickname “The Little Black Sparrow.”
The desire to own, gaze, and wear the LBD has become as infectious as Typhoid Fever. The birth of the LBD was created by Coco Chanel. The urge and the need for the LBD had become quiet rampant as well as a passionate endeavor. It has become bedlam all over again- oozing with madness. The madness is just and understandable. Everyone is or has been in search of the perfect LBD. I find myself no stranger to this search.

The owning of a LBD is quite glamorous – like of the lives within the old Hollywood circle. Perhaps, I should confess my mad obsession comes from years of pouring studiously over the crisp pages of Vogue. Yet, the perfect dress always remains regal. Often, the perfect black dress eludes its pursuer. The chase is exhilarating, lovely, and rewarding. The LBD, preferably silk Chanel, makes every woman aware of their pressing femininity and womanhood. Every fashion connoisseur, vintage, or contemporary relishes what the LBD can do for the silhouette. The LBD is a sweeping epic starring a tragically beautiful actress.
The allure of the little black dress is serious business. Its charm sky rocketed when Hubert de Givenchy took upon himself a muse, Audrey Hepburn. It was Hepburn, as Holly Golightly, who caused the “titanic” sensation. Decades later, people are still in love and achingly aware of the LBD. Hepburn was not the only individual to wear an iconic black dress. The late Princess Diana danced in her black ball gown outfitted with its soul mate- none other than a pearl chocker. Many iconic wearers glide down the red carpet [all smiles for the cameras and adoring fans ]at the Academy Awards. Some are heavy with child, like the beautiful Catherine Zeta Jones. Jones won an Oscar for her critically acclaimed role in Chicago. Another dazzler is the stunning marble skinned beauty, Nicole Kidman, who wears it with a rich aristocracy contrasting greatly with her equally pale mane. The late beauty Caroline Bessett Kennedy wore the LBD with a magnificent grace that was Camelot.

The LBD has seen many owners as well as honors. No one has ever truly won possession of the cult classic. The little black dress is no longer a dress of mourning but a dress of relevance, elegance, and love.

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About wesleyanword

The Wesleyan Word is the official student newspaper of Wesleyan College. Operated and produced by students, The Word is printed twice per month during the fall and spring semesters. Online editions are released every Wednesday throughout the school year. Wesleyan College is a 4-year private residential college for women in Macon, Georgia. Established in 1836, Wesleyan College is the first college in the world to charter degrees to women.

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