« Black is the color of chic modernity, sobriety, intellectualism, mourning, sensuality … explains Karen Van Godtsenhoven » MoMu curator at the Fashion Museum in Antwerp. « It is an aesthetic posture which refers to the idea of power. It indicates that we want to be taken seriously. In past centuries, black color was imposed for a purely technical reason … « In the sixteenth century, fabrics dyed in black were extremely expensive and only rich people could afford it, » says Karen Van Godtsenhoven. Black color quickly became an outward sign of social status. « In the court of Spain, for the Flemish nobles or the powerful lords of Venice, clothes were made in black color to distinguish them, to indicate their social position and wealth: an act of pure elitism, » says Karen Van Godtsenhoven. Fashion of the black was launched …
The myth of the little black dress
Black dominates everywhere. The ultimate proof of the power of this inexplicable color: scientists define it as a »non-color ». Simple, modern, drawing shapes to perfection, the little black dress is a must. « Mademoiselle Chanel was a marketing genius: she appropriated clothes that many women had already adopted at the time. She turned them into a symbol of elegance and modernity ». In fact, at the dawn of the 1920s, after World War I, there were many women who were mourning a father, husband or brother. « Already in 1915, one could read in women’s magazines instructions to sew different types of black dresses … Fashion took a turn in 1926 when Gabrielle Chanel created a sleeveless, above the knee, black dress that was published in American Vogue. It’s restrained sexiness and enigmatic nature allowed women of all social classes to feel comfortable yet have a sense of authority and style, simultaneously. Chanel had the genius to embody this outfit: she, the symbol of the emancipated and modern woman, put some chic in the black dress. Little did the world know that this publication would mark and revolutionize a fashion staple for many decades to come.
« One is never overdressed or under dressed in a little black dress”-Karl Lagerfeld
Beyond the musts of the season, black is for all women a safe haven: a chic color, flattering and easy to wear. Almost ..
« It is a color that does not forgive: if the garment is not of good quality, we’ll immediately notice! warns Karen Van Godtsenhoven. That is why black color is elitist. « But why is it so rare to see black dresses on Hollywood’s red carpets?
« Because Anna Wintour does not like the black color! « Karen Van Godtsenhoven smiled: » American fashion doesn’t use it very often, preferring some that evoke the freshness, vivacity, prettiness … Black color has a connotation may be too sexy for puritan America. It is reserved for seductive women, classy and chic. »
(interview from « Le Figaro Madame »)