Little Black Dress: From Mourning to Night

Missouri History Museum. Apr. 2016. 160p. photos. ISBN 9781883982843. pap. $35. DEC ARTS
Accompanying a show at the Missouri History Museum, where the author is a senior curator, this cleverly named look at the little black dress (LBD) is provincial and international all at once. With a strong emphasis on the local gentry (i.e., donors) and the LBDs they wore, it has a down-home historical feel—fitting for such an exhibition and venue—but still features Paris and New York artists' work mixed in with that of local seamstresses and designers (including Kimora Lee Simmons and Project Runway contestant Michael Drummond). The text is spare but engaging and the scope is broad, touching on Victorian silks and mourning wear to black maternity dresses, Fifties cocktail confections, 1970s peasant dresses, and gorgeous evening gowns from all decades. There are even a few prom and wedding dresses in black.
VERDICT A charming and affectionate look at the LBD and its global importance on a microcosmic scale, this is a solid choice for history buffs and fashion lovers of all stripes.
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