The little black dress has been around for 100 plus years. Prior to the Roaring Twenties, black was worn mostly for funerary occasions. Then, artist John Singer Sargent came along and painted a canvas that rocked not only the art world but also the fashion world, Madame X. It transformed black from mournful to sexy.
Coco Chanel took the concept and ran with it, creating a fashion trend that has survived to this day. It has gone through many iterations from the full skirts of the ’50s, to the sleekness of the ’60s as exemplified by the iconic Audrey Hepburn dress from Breakfast at Tiffany’s, to the crazy shoulder pads and embellishments of the ’80s, to the basic pared down grunge inspired number of the ’90s and beyond.
It is a universal piece of fashion that belongs in every woman’s closet. I even have a few.
What I’ve noticed, being in the wedding industry, is the influence that the little black dress is having on those gowns.
Wedding gowns also reflect the changes in fashion, but black wedding gowns or gowns with black decorations on them are becoming increasingly en vogue. I’ve made several gowns that incorporate black elements, and I’ve also added black accents like buttons and lace to existing dresses. It’s not for everyone, but, then again, I’m all for uniqueness in every situation.
The above was a two-piece wedding gown. I loved the way the black racer back of the bodice highlighted the rose ink on her left shoulder blade. She brought me black lace that went with the bodice to attach to her veil and the hem of her gown. The end result was just superb.
This mermaid gown had dark silver lace appliques on it, but the bride wanted to take it further into goth territory. We added a black and rhinestone trim at her neckline (as well as to her partner’s outfit) and black pearl buttons all down the back of the dress. She wore black jewelry and carried blood red roses and calla lilies. Stunning is the best way to describe this bride!
To meet this bride’s desire to go all the way goth, I built this dream dress from scratch in two pieces. I made both with a corset back so that she could continue to wear it on anniversary dates no matter how her weight changed. She added the red garnet jewelry and diadem, and, instead of a veil, we attached a long length of tulle as a cape to the back of her dress. Talk about drama!
Here is my latest creation. The young lady came to me almost in tears, telling awful tales of fat shaming at all of the boutiques she visited. (Honestly, I’m in shock that this still happens in this day and age.) Even if they had been willing to accommodate her, they wouldn’t have had this gem in stock in her size. Since we were starting from scratch, she told me of her secret desire to have black lace incorporated into her gown. She knew her mother was going to hate it, but I told her what I tell all my brides, “It’s YOUR gown and YOUR wedding, NOT your mother’s.”
We designed something simple and elegant, hiding her “faults,” enhancing all her good bits, and adding just that bit of daring that made this gown truly one of a kind–in her words, “a real show stopper.”
The little black dress . . . no longer just for funerals and fancy cocktail parties. It was only a matter of time before it burst onto the wedding scene in its unapologetic way, bringing with it drama, sex appeal, and just a bit of mystery. I am thrilled that so many brides trust me with their secret longing to add black, in big or small ways, to their wedding stories.
Until next time, dear readers, may your bobbins be full and your seams be straight!