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Coco Chanel’s 1926 little black dress added to Scotland’s Fashion Exhibition.

Published: June 13, 2023
Author: Fashion Value Chain

-By Ankita Dutta

Summary
The National Museum of Scotland is set to launch an exhibition titled Beyond The Little Black Dress which will display over 60 looks from designers worldwide, exploring the success of the garment over nearly a century. The exhibition will showcase and examine the fashion history of the little black dress starting with a black day dress designed by Coco Chanel in 1926. The exhibition will cover fashion through the decades, including works from contemporary designers and black British designers that explore blackness as a component of personal identity.

An exhibition celebrating the little black dress is set to open at the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh next month. Beyond The Little Black Dress will showcase over 60 looks from designers worldwide, examining the success of the garment over nearly a century. Commencing with a long-sleeved black day dress fashioned by Coco Chanel in 1926, which US Vogue acclaimed as “the frock that will adorn the backs of millions,” the exhibition will kick off. On loan from the Kunstgewerbemuseum in Berlin, the silk crepe

dress is featured in the exhibition as the epitome of the origin of the little black dress, according to the National Museums Scotland’s head curator of modern and contemporary design, Georgina Ripley. The dress is also a noteworthy rarity as there are scarce little black day dresses from that specific date, which makes it an important aspect of the history of the little black dress that the museum was fortunate enough to locate.

Though black was already a fashion choice prior to 1926 and other little black dresses had been created, Chanel’s design is often viewed as playing a crucial role in the modernisation of women’s fashion. It drew inspiration from menswear and workwear, such as that worn by shop workers and maids. At the same time, Paul Poiret, a contemporary of Chanel, characterized the trend as “poverty de luxe,” indicating that it involved taking humble origins and transforming them into luxurious clothing items.

Take a journey through fashion history in the exhibition, which features a range of styles spanning many eras. View exemplary works by Christian Dior, Yves Saint Laurent, and Jean Muir from the early years, or appreciate the contemporary designs of Gareth Pugh, Off-White, and Simone Rocha. The presentation also includes a selection of segments highlighting black British designers that use their work to investigate the significance of “blackness” in terms of self-expression, and how this theme can be used to create a futuristic, science fiction-influenced look.

Originally scheduled to open in 2020, curators were “thrilled” they could still borrow the dress from the museum in Berlin this year. According to Ripley, commencing the story with this particular instance is appropriate since it is a well-known occurrence in fashion history, and it was imperative to address the reality that excluding the dress would be awkward if we intended to tell the story of the little black dress. After much anticipation, curators are grateful to secure the little black dress designed by Chanel in 1926.

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