If we are to dive in the history of minimalist fashion, we will come across names such as Martin Margiela, Yohji Yamamoto, Issie Miyake, Rei Kawakubo or Coco Chanel. While their approach differs and changes with time, a recurrent element for the designers who take on a minimal aesthetic is the use of black.
We won’t debate if black is a colour or not. But we have to remember that when men and women first started to express themselves through visuals the black line helped them. And as Kassia St Clair states in her book The Secret Lives of Colour, the black line is art’s foundation stone.
As a colour of fashion, black reached its culmination around 1360 when new dyeing methods were discovered, and the brownish fabrics became black and looked more luxurious.
Philip the Good (1396-1467), Duke of Burgundy was almost always wearing black clothing, mostly to honour the memory of his father, but this also helped with making black popular in terms of fashion and not just as a mourning colour.
Baldassare Castiglione, wrote in his Book of the Courtier that black is more pleasing in clothing than any other colour and the Western world agreed.
It is clear that wearing black was fashionable before the famous little black dress. Some say that Philip the Good himself was the first to try the little black dress, except that back then the garments were not so little, but they still resembled a dress. So even if we associate the word LBD with Coco Chanel, she did not invent it. The look was indeed popularized in the mid-1920s, specifically with Chanel’s Model T dress published in Vogue in 1926.
From there designers have used the LBD to help carve their niche: Dior in the 1950s, Givenchy in the 1960s, Vivienne Westwood in the 1970s, Azzedine Alaïa in the 1980s, Yohji Yamamoto in the 1990s.
So if we were to pick the most representative minimalist fashion piece, would the LBD suffice?