Black into Spring: The Iconic History of Coco Chanel & the LBD

Claudia Chan Shaw, an Australian fashion designer and co-host of ABC TV’s ‘Collectors’ started off the month-long series of lectures with one of the recommend staples of every woman’s wardrobe, the Little Black Dress.

“Beyond the Little Black Dress” as the lecture was titled introduced us to none other than the promoter for the classic wardrobe staple, the iconic French fashion designer, Gabrielle ‘Coco’ Chanel.

Shaw gave us an insight into Chanel’s life: her working-class childhood beginnings, to her rise to fame as a Haute Couture designer; her talk had it all – spanning the designer’s illustrious and notorious career.

The real topic of discussion was Chanel’s famous ‘Little Black Dress’ or LBD for short, as it’s now affectionately known.

Pictured in a 1926 edition of American Vogue, the dress was calf-length, straight and decorated only by a few diagonal lines. Described by Vogue as “Chanel’s Ford” because like the Model T, the Little Black Dress was simple and accessible for women of all social classes.

A feisty and dedicated woman with a hard upbringing, Chanel was determined to make a name for herself and by designing comfortable clothes for women at a time where dresses featured corseted silhouettes brought her success. Women wanted a change. They no longer wanted to be restricted with their clothing, Chanel was able to work on her own desires to wear comfortable leisure wear clothing still featuring feminine touches.

The House of Chanel also helped disassociate black from mourning and reinvent it as the uniform of the high-class, wealthy and chic. She was quoted saying “I imposed black; it’s still going strong today, for black wipes out everything else around.”

 

Fashion Talks with Claudia Chan Shaw
Tuesday 4 September 2018
Chatswood Chase

Words by Talica Tamanitoakula.
Photography by John Paul Urizar.