The 'little black dress' through the decades

Hubert de Givenchy, creator of the original 'little black dress', passed away in Paris this week. In tribute to his most iconic design, we take a look at the LBD then and now, and its many interpretations and reinterpretations across a century of style.

Hubert de Givenchy trained with Balenciaga and viewed fashion – true fashion – as a sort of refined religion. He befriended Audrey Hepburn during the making of Sabrina and catapulted into the fashion heavens with one of history's most iconic style moments in Breakfast at Tiffany's.

The sleek noir shift from the opening credits of the iconic film – cut elegantly across the shoulders, and adorned with a heavy collar of pearls – became a symbol of real elegance, a look women have worked to create and reference ever since.

Mr. Givenchy's LBD followed on from Coco Chanel's innovative approach to early 20th-century fashion. While Chanel introduced black as an appropriate, chic colour to wear outside of time in mourning, it was Hubert de Givenchy who created the cocktail dress we all still want to wear today.

He stepped down as head designer in 1995 – and in July last year, an exhibition of Givenchy's most pivotal black pieces was put on show in tribute to his 40-year career at the Cite Internationale de la Dentelle et de la Mode in Calais, France. At the opening of the exhibition, he said, "I am happy because I did the job I dreamed of as a child". As for whether he enjoyed fashion of the world today, he wasn't especially enthusiastic. "There’s fashion and there are fashions,” he said.

These days, Givenchy has a much more grungy, youthful aesthetic – now led by Clare Waight Keller, who replaced Ricardo Tisci last year and is the first woman in charge of the fashion house. There are furry rubber pool slides, bohemian slouched leather handbags, and sheer tops with large lettering splashed across the front. Not exactly an Audrey look, but still championing black as the most stylish shade all the while. 

Here, we take a look at Givenchy's ever-fashionable little black dresses and their famous imitations over time – from its original on-screen appearance to the autumn-winter runway show held in Paris earlier this month. 

60s: Breakfast at Tiffany's


70s: Jackie Kennedy


80s: Madonna hosts Saturday Night Live


90s: Sarah Jessica Parker, Princess Diana, and Azzedine Alaia


Now: Recent Givenchy little black dresses

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