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Little Black Dress

Start Date 10 December 2011
End Date 26 February 2012
Venue Tullie House Museum
Location Carlisle, UK
Curator Pollyanna Clayton Stamm
Assistant Curator David Sinclair

In 1926, Coco Chanel launched her ‘Ford’ dress, the first definitive Little Black Dress (LBD) onto the haute couture scene. Both practical and chic, the LBD has since become a staple in every woman’s wardrobe.

Using the Tullie House costume collection as well as designer garments loaned-in, this exhibition shows the evolution of the little black dress, both preceding the launch of Chanel’s Ford dress and over the successive eight decades, exploring how it has been adapted to suit wildly changing fashion styles and cultural climates – from the raunchy cocktail dress of the prohibition-era to the modest and practical dress of wartime and the mini of the 1960s, up to the present day. The costumes are contextualised by film footage, studio photography and dress patterns from each of the respective eras.

Little Black Dress has been curated by Pollyanna Clayton Stamm, with contributions from David Sinclair. The tour is based on the original exhibition at Urbis, Manchester and The Civic, Barnsley.