Dennita Sewell's Five Facts You Didn't Know about the Little Black Dress

Phoenix Art Museum's fashion curator Dennita Sewell dished out the history of the little black dress during the LBD cocktail party on Friday at Scottsdale's recently opened Saguaro hotel.

After imbibing, chatting, and snatching a few hors d'oeuvres, attendees sat down, facing mannequins dressed in a collection of LBDs from Robert Black

Sewell shared photos and stories of the fashion staple throughout history and supplied the context in the evolution of the black dress.

Think you know all there is to know about the LBD? See five facts we learned from Sewell's talk after the jump.

5. The LBD has 16th century roots
Black, now thought of as utilitarian and figure-friendly, was a symbol of wealth. Unlucky (but well dressed) Anne Boleyn famously wore an all black velvet frock, and, back in her day, that meant a lot of dark, expensive dye was needed to get a saturated shade.

4. It was a wartime staple
In 1940s America, a time of cutting back and sacrifices, the little black dress or suit was a must-have due to its versatility. The simplicity of the black made the dresses a backdrop for accessories, the most iconic of which is a strand of pearls.

3. Minimalism and modernism made the LBD luxurious
As couture took off in Spain and America, the LBD went high fashion. With unexpected details, clean lines, and unwavering style, houses including Dior, Givenchy, and Balenciaga brought black to fashionistas and international it girls like Ann Bonfoey Taylor and Audrey Hepburn.

2. Iterations of the LBD aren't necessarily little
As Sewell noted, one of the most famous LBDs (Audrey Hepburn's Givenchy getup in Breakfast at Tiffany's) has a lengthy skirt.

1. Coco Chanel's LBD was made of... undies
Indeed. Back in TKTK, underwear was made from jersey. And Chanel's famed LBD? Yep. It was cut from the same cloth. So not only did the dress make waves by incorporating a masculine silhouette into a dress, it also raised a few eyebrows for its material.

See more photos from the LBD cocktail party here.

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Becky Bartkowski is an award-winning journalist and the arts and music editor at New Times, where she writes about art, fashion, and pop culture.
Contact: Becky Bartkowski