Known simply to most women as the LBD in the closet, the ‘little black dress’ as it was coined almost a century ago, is a staple in any female’s wardrobe. The origins of this sensible piece of fashion dates back to the 1920’s, and the designs of Coco Chanel and Jean Patou. The premise of the dress was to produce a versatile, trendy yet affordable cocktail gown available to the mass market. According to fashionistas everywhere, the LBD is considered a ‘rule of fashion’ meaning every woman must have at least one effortless little black dress hanging in her closet. Style gurus insist the LBD should be as simple as possible allowing the cocktail dress to be dressed up, or down, depending on the occasion, and of course to avoid it from becoming (fashionably) dated.
10. The Safety Pin LBD: $5,000+
Labeled as ‘that dress’, this little black dress was rocked by Elizabeth Hurley in 1994, and held together merely with some (designer) safety pins. The then girlfriend of Hugh Grant walked the red carpet of Grant’s movie premiere, Four Weddings And A Funeral, in the designer Gianni Versace, which propelled her into stardom the very next day. While there is contradicting information regarding how Ms. Hurley wound up in the now infamous safety pin dress, the model was reported as saying she had borrowed a sample from the designer because she couldn’t afford to buy something new. ‘That dress was a favour from Versace,’ she said. ‘His people told me they didn’t have any evening wear, but there was one item left in their press office. So I tried it on and that was it.’ Fashion stylists accredit Versace’s ‘neo-punk’ creation for giving Hurley an identity other than gossip columnists’ favorite high profile girlfriend.
9. Angeina Jolie’s Thigh-high Split LBD: $10,000+
Described as the dress that restarted the thigh-high slit, actress Angelina Jolie’s Atelier Versace LBD could not be excluded from this fashionable list. The starlet known for her flawless face and unequivocally impeccable lips, adorned the now infamous gown during the 84th Annual Academy Awards in 2012, and all but stole the show when she struck the now infamous leg pose (on stage as well as on the red carpet) exposing her toned leg through the gown’s high cut slit. The black velvet Atelier Versace piece was custom made for the star, and featured a strapless asymmetrical neckline with full A-line skirt where the thigh-high split was made. Considered ‘wearable art’ Atelier Versace’s one of a kind gowns such as this one, cost anywhere from $10,000 and up.
8. Cher Nude Feathered LBD: $28,125
Designed by Bob Mackie in 1975, Cher’s feathered nude illusion LBD featured full-length black satin, with long sleeves, and a nude illusion section on the breast segment as well as a back zip closure. The performance gown was garnished with beaded embellishments and feathered patterns, completing the over-the-top design. The gown was worn by the infamous actress and singer, on March 9, 1975, on an episode of The Cher Show during her performance of “How Long Has This Been Going On?” The star also wore the gown for a photo shoot with Bob Mackie. The dress (originally worn with a black feather overcoat) was sold at an 2011 auction for $28,125.
7. Charlize Theron’s Plunging Black Dior Gown: $30,000+
A spokeswoman for Dior, its no surprise Charlize Theron chose this Christian Dior haute couture dress to rock the 2014 Oscar red carpet. It’s also no shocker that the Oscar winning model turned actress, made the 2014 Oscar best-dressed list in the mermaid style black Dior gown. The dramatic LBD featured a low cut neck-line and plunging V-back harnessed with clear straps nearly reaching the base of Theron’s back. The cost of a similar Christian Dior haute couture gown (as we’ve seen on Ms. Theron on past red carpets) is upwards of $30,000.
6. Gilda’s Femme Fatale LBD: $60,000
Directed by Charles Vidor, Gilda was a 1946 film noir starring Glenn Ford and Rita Hayworth as the femme fatale. Receiving much acclaim for style and wardrobe, the film’s costume designer Jean Louis unleashed several savvy designs throughout the film noir, including what is now considered one of history’s most beloved LBD’s. During one of the film’s fundamental scenes (a striptease style song performance), Hayworth was styled in a little black number singing “Put the Blame on Mame.” The particular movie scene is considered one of the greatest film-fashion moments caught on camera, thrusting the concept of the LBD into a nouveau femme fatal category. The satin sheath strapless gown featured a straight neckline, and long side-slit, and was completed with a pair of long gloves. The cost to create the gown was $60,000.
5. The Revenge Dress: $74,000
Leave it to the always elegant, people’s Princess, Princess Diana, to produce a revenge LBD. The now infamous title was given to the gown worn by Princess Diana in 1994 following the televised confession of Prince Charles’ adultery with Camilla Parker Bowles. The beloved Princess showcased the body hugging, off the shoulder gown, at a public event for Vanity Fair. Princess Di completed the look with black opaque stockings and high-heeled pumps. The mini LBD was sold at an auction in 1997 (the same year as the Princess’ tragic death) for $74,000.
4. The Givenchy LBD: $923,187
Designed by Hubert Givenchy for the 1961 American romantic comedy, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, the LBD worn by Audrey Hepburn has become almost as infamous as the movie. The gown was worn by the stunning actress in the opening scene of the film, and transcended into perhaps the most iconic LBD in history. The sleeveless long gown featuring a single side to the side, was embellished with a back bodice and shoulder-baring neckline and completed with elbow-length gloves. The gown was actually a combination of three little black dresses created for the film. Givenchy gave away one of the dresses to Christie’s auction in December 2006 where it was sold for $923,187. The designer kept the second and original design in his private collection, while the third design is touring throughout the world in various museums.
3. The 55-piece Diamond LBD: $3.5 million
This LBD is one of the world’s most expensive dresses. Designer Debbie Wingham’s diamond studded creation weighs 13 kilograms and costs a jaw dropping $3.5 million. The multi-million dollar LBD is adorned in black diamonds (55 to be exact), as well as white gold diamonds and embellished beading (hand detailing) and features a gold chainmail to top it off. The dress was put on display on a luxury boat during a billionaire club event in Monaco.
2. Black Cocktail Dress: $15 Million
Considered the world’s most expensive cocktail dress, this LBD comes courtesy of a diamond wholesaler. Tov International is a family owned and operated diamond wholesale business specializing in 3-carat round brilliant diamonds. The dazzling creation made its debut during the American Gem Society’s Conclave Fashion Show in 2012, and was custom-designed by New York-based designers Chloe and Reese. The cocktail dress is comprised of a total of eighty-five diamonds on the bodice, all certified by the Gemological Institute of America, and features four gems on the sleeve and seven diamonds on the back.
1. The Ultimate Little Black Dress: Priceless!
Debuted by infamous French fashion designer, Coco Chanel, this LBD was featured on the front cover of American Vogue, in 1926. In the same year the magazine named the Coco Chanel black dress “a Ford”, referencing its “simplicity and it’s potential for an enormous and long-lasting success.” The photo depicted a short, simple black dress, curve-less and straight to the calf, barely embellished excluding for a few diagonal lines. Evidently, the dress was designed to promote cross functionality, and gave birth to multi-purpose fashionable items, eventually being coined as “the frock that all the world will wear.”