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Cocktail Dress History

Thursday, 31 December 2009

cocktail dress historyCocktail dress aka cocktail gown found its ready market and may be small black dress, the classic garment created by Coco Chanel and well accepted and practiced throughout the world for many years. The cocktail dress when appeared in 20s of the previous year is almost one hundred years old, interpreted in the legendary collection New Look by Christian Dior and garments worn by Audrey Hepburn who epitomized the Chanel ideal for wearing little black dresses, accessorized with pearls, to Hubert de Givenchy and the latest haute couture designer collections.

First cocktail parties celebrated the opening of the dry epoch in USA when the post-war period with men who came back from the front of the World War I and women who served on the home front required absolutely new kind of clothes. The new type of wear should have been less official and formal that that required for the high society functions but more elegant than everyday wear. And the cocktail dress was the real outcome of the designer ideas and work. The first cocktail dress was presented as the knee-long garment made from silk or chiffon and decorated abundantly with embroidery, stresses, pearls and a lot more. Quite harsh fashion rules dictated the length of the dress the skirt of which was short enough, absence of sleeves and the collar. Moreover, the fashion designers followed the rule of balance when the top of the cocktail dress is too open, then the skirt should have been strict and closed, and vise versa.

Traditional cocktail dresses were worn with lots of accessories like small purses with the chain holder decorated with spangles to hold only a powder-case and other small belongings, shoes to match the color of the dress or the purse, elbow-long gloves that accentuated the elegance of a woman hand in absence of sleeves and little flirty hats. These accessories as must-have to the cocktail dress were well practiced till the middle of 60s.

Cocktail parties that were closed functions for the other times moved to the other level and were open and available for anyone in 30s, and not only ladies for high society but all women of any status and age afforded themselves cocktail dresses. That came after a little black dress aka LBD was invented in 1926, and the black color was acknowledged as the appropriate and elegant solution for any cocktail dresses.

Yet, new life was breathed into the cocktail dress in the post-war period thanks to the fashion for ethnic patterns and exotic fabric that took place in the end of forties. That time was seen with cocktail dresses that were too affordable and open to anyone and everything tend to reveal more details, as the skirt got shorter, the line of neck became seductively lower, and there were no signs of sleeves at all. Post-war cocktail dresses were eye-catching and fascinating with all those spangles and glittering embroidery following the principle when the more it glitters, the better.  

Eventually, the habit to gather for cocktails in particular places wearing special cocktail dresses brought to origin of the special culture, as well as cocktail dresses, that became more elegant and adorable thanks to various styles. The fashionmongers of that time enjoyed puffed skirts and low-neck, pencil-skirts with the embroidery on the collar, and tightly-fitted dresses to emphasize good shapes. A must-have accessory to go with the dress is still a small purse or clutch to match the dress in the color, shoes and gloves.

During 60s the cocktails dresses were forgotten for some time that went on within several decades. Swinging population of the 60s completely ignored the cocktail dresses as something that is not comfortable and constraining movements, and more extravagant and stunning clothes appeared to replace those dresses in the style of new tendency, disco.

And again, cocktail dresses revived in the 90s again. The vintage is always appreciated and valued by the fashion followers and rarity lovers, and most Hollywood divas liked to appear in public on the red carpet in vintage clothes. Since that time couturiers and designers who ignored cocktail dresses for over several decades re-launched collections with vintage clothes, as well as fashion brands.

Today, a cocktail dress is a must-have for the most designer collections no matter of the season. Following the traditions, the cocktail dresses were made from silk, chiffon and luxury satin, the fabric to create elegant and stunning ensembles to emphasize the shapes favorably.

The accessories to go with any cocktail dress did not undergo sea changes; they are the same, more or less. Today a clutch foe evening wear is the solution for women to take to match their cocktail dresses instead of purses or mini-handbags. Cocktail dresses are appropriate to wear for various parties, banquettes, theater, and the places when less formal dress code is followed.

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