Femme fatale

This post was written by Lindy Shopper.

The little black dress originated in the 1920′s from Coco Chanel‘s revolutionary designs, which took the black dress from a mourning garb to the quintessential cocktail dress. Hollywood costumers of the 1930′s and 1940′s re-envisioned the black dress for the film industry because black showed up well in black and white film. Eventually, the black dress became a staple in closets everywhere, from silver screen to secretary. For me, the little black dresses of the 1940′s lend themselves to two sorts of character interpretations: first, as the femme fatale of film noir fame and, second, as a quintessential big band singer dress, a la Marilyn Maxwell in Swing Fever.

Perhaps there is a tie that binds these two categories, aside from the dress, as both the femme fatale and the big band singer can be irresistible. I think the dress helps. ;)

There was usually nothing little about the dresses themselves, as they may have been outfitted with sequins, embroidery, shoulder pads, cutouts, elegant draping, peplums, or other dress details that give the dress that 1940′s look of elegance with a dash of vamp. eBay has a sampling of these dresses right now, so get them while they’re hot! My picks from eBay:

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3 responses to “Femme fatale

  1. The singer’s black dress is made for the movies with all the detail above the waist…and the dancer’s with that unusual dropped waist, which really exaggerates her swinging hips.

    Sadly, in poorly lighted vintage stores, lots of time you can barely even SEE the black dresses!

  2. Check out the dancer’s website at http://www.jeanveloz.com/. The dress does emphasize her awesome swivels and swingouts!

  3. Wow! The Groovie Movie was All Reet! It’s so cool to put names to the unbilled talents of Hollywood.

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