A few months ago in New York I had the opportunity to meet the incredible André Leon Talley. Approachable, sincere, funny and sensitive, André, who is a contributing editor at Vogue, the editor at large for Numéro Russia and an SACD mentor, is a true fashion legend. André began his career assisting the iconic Diana Vreeland at the Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute and later wrote for Interview and industry publication Women’s Wear Daily. Today, he is at the peak of his career, and is curating the new The Little Black Dress exhibition in Paris.
For fashionistas everywhere, it goes without saying that the little black dress is the essence of chic! Even back in Coco Chanel’s day, that was the case. That’s why the designer set out to create the definitive little black dress, an item one could wear anytime and for any occasion. Chanel gave her dress the perfect shape, used the best fabric, and created a timeless icon! The dress you wear every day with flat shoes and a handbag becomes a cocktail dress by accessorizing it with high sky heels, a clutch and diamonds. Just like that Mademoiselle Coco turned black into a “real” color.
When André spoke about the exhibition, he talked about his grandmother, who taught him a passion for fashion, style, and elegance. This made me think back to my own grandmother, who used to take me shopping with her. Just like André, I was impressed by this incredibly chic woman for whom her own definition of fashion was elegance, education, and a classy attitude. Plus the classic furs and jewelry my grandmother and her friends wore to accessorize their black dresses!
The Little Black Dress exhibition in Paris is taking place at the Mona Bismark American Center. Considered to be one of the most beautiful, unconventional yet glamorous women of her time, Bismark was a patron of the arts, fashion, and culture. Many artists such as Dali, Fini, Boutet de Monvel and Beaton were inspired by her beauty. I took a tour of the exhibition and got a scoop about the stories behind each dress. Little Black Dress charts the historic and contemporary significance of this singular sartorial phenomenon with approximately 50 looks from designers like Chanel, Marc Jacobs, Miuccia Prada, Tom Ford, Prabal Gurung (who donated a dress worn by SJP), Proenza Schouler, Oscar de la Renta (whose dress used 50 meters of tulle), Stella McCartney (a dress worn by Rihanna), Comme des Garçons (worn by Marc Jacobs) and Ralph Lauren (the back of his dress features a dragon made of pearls inspired by a real tattoo on the back of a supermodel).
For those summering in Europe, take the time to stop by this must-see exhibition, on view until September 22nd.