Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Chic Black Winter Gear

Black can look so sharp. I am such a color fanatic so usually I don't pair all black outfits...but there is no color that says "city chic" so well.

"A Black-Out on Black"

When did black begin to be considered fashionable wear in the West? It seems to me that we can follow two distinct channels of acceptance. The first upsurge to make black acceptable came from the fashion houses of Paris and London and was directed at the fashion elites - the rich, the glamorous and the chic. Chanel’s revolutionary “little black dress” for the elite lady of style entered the fashion scene in the post war period.

In the ‘50s Christian Dior made popular the black afternoon dress and jacket, but again, only for the wealthy and super fashion conscious. However, it wasn't long before the black dress lost its revolutionary tone and had become a staple at any fashionable gathering. By the early '90s it took a lot more to startle a gathering than a scintillating black dress, and it became quite the fashion at high society London and Paris parties to masquerade in Frankenstein-Marilyn Manson black costumes with clearly Satanic tones. This is not to say that everyone who, for fun or shock-value, joins in the fad is involved in outright Satanism. It is merely to point out where the first channel seems to flow.

The second channel flowed through the beatnik and artsy-academic circles to reach the university students, the middle class, and everyone else. In the '60s the beatniks made black the core color of what became known as “Beat style.” Black became the favored color among artists and intellectuals. The black apparel of the reactionaries not infrequently seemed to accompany the popular revolutionary longings of the day and to provide fertile soil for fermenting utopic communist and socialist ideas. In the ‘60s, modern dancers wore black tights and leotards, while painters, musicians, “hip” professors and liberal Jesuit priests wore black turtlenecks, which were considered cool and non-conformist. This rebel Bohemian black was very different from Chanel’s “little black dress,” which had become the uniform for respectability.

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