Looking back, we have the one and only Coco Chanel to thank, though the designer didn't necessarily invent the concept. According to Coco Chanel: The Legend and the Life, the little black dress was not formally identified as the shape of the future until 1926, when American Vogue published a drawing of a Chanel dress. Vogue dubbed the dress "the Ford" because it mirrored the democratic ideals of the Model T car. The magazine correctly predicted the timeless black crepe de chine dress would become a form of uniform.
|BBC / Paste Magazine|
The popularity of the black dress has continued to offer some of the most memorable looks by style icons across several decades. Below we see Grace Kelly, later Princess Grace of Monaco, in a black dress in Alfred Hitchcock's Rear Window; Jackie Kennedy with her husband John F. Kennedy; and Princess Diana in her so-called "Revenge Dress" by Christina Stambolian.
Perhaps the most memorable of them all remains the black Givenchy dress Audrey Hepburn wore for Breakfast at Tiffany's in 1961. The sleeveless, floor-length gown with fitted bodice has been cited as one of the most iconic of the 20th century and has remained a major fashion influence ever since.
A memorable look: the Duchess in a black ISSA dress during a shopping trip to Whistles just days before the royal wedding.
Following William and Kate's engagement announcement back in 2010, Kate's style gradually changed. One key component in her sartorial selections has been her increased love of black dresses for official events. Kate wore the Zara Tulip Dress for a Gary Barlow Concert in December 2011.
During Kate's visit to Liverpool on Valentine's Day 2012 she wore a black Oasis turtleneck dress.
For the SportsBall in 2013 the Duchess wore the Temperley London 'Templeton' dress - made of taffeta-style fabric and inspired by Renaissance stained glass. The dress was described as having an "Audrey Hepburn feel".
The Duchess paid tribute to New Zealand during the Cambridges' 2014 royal tour when she wore a bespoke crepe Jenny Packham dress with hand-stitched silver beading to represent New Zealand's national emblem, the fern.
For Action on Addiction's 2014 Autumn Gala, Kate sported the Temperley London 'Emblem' dress. The long sleeved dress with delicate panels received a mixed reaction on the night with many feeling it didn't photograph well.
In New York last year, black proved to be Kate's colour of choice throughout the trip . On their first night in the Big Apple the Duchess chose the black lace 'Amara' dress by Beulah London at a private dinner for American Friends of the Royal Foundation.
Also in New York, the Duchess looked chic in the Seraphine 'Vanessa' dress.
Last Saturday, for the Festival of Remembrance at the Royal Albert Hall Kate selected a black dress with a sheer lace design by Dolce & Gabbana. Again, this is one of Kate's black dresses that proved divisive; I thought it a very appropriate choice for the nature of the occasion and very much in line with looks worn by other members of the Royal family.
We've also seen the Duchess sport fresh takes on the classic LBD over the year. Take a look at the bespoke Temperley 'Esmerelda' decorated with flowing flowers, and Reiss dress Kate wore for a night out in Mayfair. There's also been fantastic black day dresses with pretty prints such as the ASOS spot print skater dress, the ISSA bird print dress and the Topshop contrast collar dress.
Aside from daywear and cocktail dresses, Kate has relied upon classic black evening gowns over the years to help her cement signature style and ensure she always looked polished and elegant. The strapless velvet Alexander McQueen gown Kate wore to the Sun Military Awards back in December 2011 remains my favourite to this day. For me nothing has surpassed the effortless, understated glamour the entire look exuded. Complemented with dazzling Mouawad jewels, this one is a 10/10 in my book.
Kate loves her Temperley London 'Amoret' gown so much she's worn it three times: for the War Horse premiere, a St Andrews dinner and an event at the Natural History Museum. The striking gown is very much a classic Kate piece with the lace gown trimmed with scalloped eyelash edges, a curved seam and a removable crepe belt.
Her Royal Highness was elegant in the DVF 'Zarita' gown for the 2014 Royal Variety Performance. The black dress is fitted through the bodice, waist and thigh, and the piece opens to a sweeping fluted hem. The delicate gown, crafted from sheer lace features a v-back and is fitted with a slim band around the waist that flatters the silhouette.
Which of Kate's black dresses do you favour the most? Looking back, have you changed your opinion about any of them?