Once women entered the workplace during the First World War, their lifestyles began to change rapidly. One of these women who chose to work was Chanel and she accurately assessed the needs of the time, starting with jersey cardigan suits, she went on to show numerous new styles of dress. Not only were her dresses easy to wear and move in, but were also characteristic for the way she removed all decoration to create a simple style. The work shown here comprises of a black slip and a daringly simple black chiffon dress. The low waist area has a double layer of bias-cut chiffon added, creating an irregular hemline. The area below the right sleeve has bias-cut material added, creating an unbalance between left and right. When this costume is worn, the chiffon that is attached to the dress flows to follow the movement of the body.
The 1920s, or the jazz age as it came to be known, was a time of plenty, as can be seen from the flamboyant dresses of the time that displayed almost excessive decoration with beads, embroidery and bright colors. Despite this trend, Chanel chose to produce minimalistic dresses like the one shown here, dresses that came to embody a new elegance. Known as the ‘little black dress’ this design has not aged from the time it was first shown and even today, it remains an essential part of every woman’s wardrobe.