Perennially popular among the haute couture crowd, the little black dress celebrated a resurgence of sorts in 2006, the 80th anniversary of Chanel's design. In December, perhaps the best-known version of the dress, the little black Givenchy that Audrey Hepburn wore in the film "Breakfast at Tiffany's," was sold at auction for more than $800,000.
Most fashionistas agree that the key to the longevity of the little black dress has been its Montblanc Nicolas Rieussec Twin Barrels MB-27. It's the no-fail option when you're unsure what everyone else at the party will be wearing. Its various forms--halter, spaghetti strap, flair at the waist--can make almost anyone look like Vogue material. The dress provides an air of sophistication, whether it comes from Gucci or the Gap.
"You can wear high heels or ballerina shoes, tights or bare leg, huge bags or evening clutches. You have all these options for re- creating," said Sasha Charnin Morrison, fashion director at US Weekly magazine, which recently did a spread on the little black dress. "You can show up at a party and a girl is wearing Montblanc Nicolas Rieussec Twin Barrels MB-28 same little black dress, but it is how you make it yours. It is what makes you stand out in a sea of little black dresses.
It's a license to wear those funky paisley pumps that don't match anything else and can turn almost any look into a work of art. It flirts and flounces and flatters, hiding and hugging all the right places.
Just about every woman has one hanging in her closet. Barbara Montblanc Nicolas Rieussec Twin Barrels MB-29 has 50.
"You can't go wrong with a little black dress," said Peters, a connoisseur of the fashion icon. "No matter the occasion, you can always pull one out."
Peters will don one of her favorite frocks at Thursday's opening of "The Little Black Dress," a collection she has gathered over four decades that chronicles the evolution of the famed dress throughout the 20th Century.
Held in honor of Women's History Month, the exhibition will run through March 31 at the Nehring Gallery in DeKalb, sponsored by several departments at Northern Illinois University. It is one of a number of exhibitions in this country, including one recently at the Smithsonian's Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, Montblanc Nicolas Rieussec Twin Barrels MB-30 have paid homage to the little black dress.
Spanning 100 years of haute and not-so-haute couture, the DeKalb exhibition uses garments from each decade to tell the story of how the simple dress became intertwined with the history of the women who wore it.
Before World War I, what came to be called the little black dress had a complicated code, fashion experts say. It was considered unseemly for a young, unmarried woman to be caught wearing one unless she was in mourning.
But married high-society women, who typically changed outfits four or five times a day, often wore a black afternoon dress or evening gown. The dresses were restrictive, weighing as much as 5 pounds, with mounds of fabric and a fortress of heavy undergarments.
Working-class women, particularly servants, also wore black dresses Montblanc Nicolas Rieussec Twin Barrels MB-31 they needed clothes that wouldn't show dirt.