Audrey Hepburn in the Opening Shot of Breakfast at Tiffany’s
An apocryphal tale: Dressed in fashionable black, Gabrielle Chanel encountered fellow designer Paul Poiret who was compelled by her dark habit to inquire for whom she was in mourning for. Her come back: “Pour vous cher Monsieur.”
Less than four decades later, bereavement is hardly the sentiment which asserts itself among the audience viewing the opening scene of Breakfast at Tiffany’s as Audrey Hepburn strolls on a deserted Fifth Avenue garbed in an elegant simple black sheath dress.*
The little black dress designed by Chanel in 1926 reshaped fashion vocabulary by marrying modern femininity with quotidian wear – black was the new black, and everyday.
Chanel dress Wool with silk trim ; fall/winter 2006 Credit : Savannah College of Art and Design
Tracing the evolution of the Little Black Dress as a fashion statement and a cultural phenomena is the focus on an exhibition running from July 3 to September 22 at the Mona Bismarck American Center in Paris.
Curated by Vogue Contributing Editor and Savannah College of Art & Design (SCAD) Trustee André Leon Talley, the exhibition features contributions from veteran American and international designers, including Lanvin, Kamali, Comme des Garcons, Chanel, Marc Jacobs, Givenchy and Calvin Klein.
In lieu of arrangement by the year of their creation, the approximately 50 dresses are displayed throughout three galleries as parts of conversations to illustrate influences and inspirations from one piece to the next.
Marc Jacobs, dinner dress Silk; fall/winter 2012 Credit: Courtesy of Rachel Feinstein, NY
Countess Mona Bismarck was an American philanthropist of great style, beauty and wealth. She was the founder and sole benefactor of the Mona Bismarck Foundation that upon her passing in 1986 assumed her intense passion for art and culture and their purposeful application in nurturing French – American friendship.
In 2011, the Mona Bismarck American Center was launched to carry on the legacy of Mona Bismarck through exhibitions, educational programs and events.
* M. Hubert de Givenchy, who designed the black dress for Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, is a member of SCAD’s International Advisory Council. But, Givenchy’s design showed too much leg, therefore the actual dresses used in the movie were made by Edith Head.
Mona Bismarck American Center for Art & Culture
34, ave. de New York 75116 Paris, Tel 01 47 23 38 88, Website
“Little Black Dress” exhibition is organized by the Savannah College of Art & Design Museum of Art and is generously supported by M•A•C. (Make-up Art Cosmetics) part of The Estée Lauder Companies, Inc. Website
Exhibition Opening Hours: Wednesday to Sunday, from 11 AM to 6 PM
Admission: Adults: 7 € Reduced admission: 5 € (Children 12-17, Seniors 60+, Unemployed, with valid ID) Free: Children under 12
Tom Ford, dress Chantilly lace with jet beading ; fall/winter 2011 Credit : Courtesy of Tom Ford, London