Fashion changes with the season, but some pieces seem to stay around forever. Even after a decline in popularity, these pieces comeback with a bang. Here is an introduction of the top five iconic fashion pieces. These classics are known by fashion lovers of all generations. Let’s take a look at these investment-worthy items.
1. Little Black Dress
Fashion historians say the little black dress originated to the 1920s designs of Coco Chanel and Jean Patou intended to be long-lasting, versatile, affordable and accessible to the widest market possible. It is often simply referred to as the "LBD". The little black dress is considered an essential to a complete wardrobe. Any simple, elegant black dress that can be dressed up or down depending on the occasion: for example, worn with a jacket and pumps for daytime business wear or with more ornate jewelry and accessories for evening, is considered a little black dress.
Prior to the 1920s black was often reserved for periods of mourning and considered indecent when worn outside such circumstances. Because of the number of deaths in World War I, plus the many fatalities during the Spanish flu epidemic, it became more common for women to appear in public wearing black. In 1926 Coco Chanel published a picture of a short, simple black dress in American Vogue. It was calf-length, straight and decorated only by a few diagonal lines. Vogue said that the LBD would become "a sort of uniform for all women of taste".
The most famous LBD since Chanel has to be the LBD worn by Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s in 1961 designed by Hubert de Givenchy. Givenchy hand-stitched two LBD’s for Hepburn to wear in the famous opening scene of the film, but after Paramount studios expressed concern the dresses showed too much leg, they were redesigned to be more demure. Actress Natalie Portman appeared on the cover of Harper’s Bazaar wearing one of the original Givenchy dresses created for the film. The LBD is truly iconic.
2. Burberry Trench Coat
The Burberry fashion house was founded in 1856. Thomas Burberry had one original design of a coat intended to keep the rain out that changed the face of this fashion house and created an iconic fashion item. Thomas Burberry invented a special type of fabric for a comfortable and rain-resistant coat. The fruit of his labors was gabardine, a tough, tightly-woven and water-resistant fabric. The success of Burberry's water-resistant fabric was unheard of. The first major client for this new fabric was the British Army. Burberry used his own designs for officers' coats, he had made 13 years beforehand for the War Office. Burberry then added shoulder straps and metal rings to his gabardine coat, and the trench coat was born.
After the war, the soldiers carried on wearing their trenches in civilian life. The trench kept its original shape throughout the years and is still made from 26 pieces of gabardine of different sizes, with a buckled belt and D-rings. The Burberry trench coat was imitated by fashion houses across the world. The trench became popular in the street and on the big screen, but lost none of its charm through the fashion ages.
3. Hermès Birkin Bag
The most commonly recognized luxury handbag in the world is most certainly the Hermes Birkin. The first Birkin bag was manufactured in the early 80′s for model, singer, and it-girl Jane Birkin. After being seated next to Hermès CEO Jean-Louis Dumas on a flight from Paris to London, Jane sparked a conversation about her messy datebook and her quest to find the perfect weekend bag. Dumas was intrigued and asked her to describe exactly what size and features she would want in a bag. Shortly after the flight she received the bag with a personal note from Dumas. This was the birth of the Birkin bag. The Birkin bag has since then become one of the most iconic accessories in modern fashion. With the price of one of these handbags ranging from $5,000 USD to over 6 figures, there is an infamous waiting list known to be up to 4 years. This bag is a favorite among the rich and famous.
4. Ray-ban Wayfarer
The most iconic eyewear ever must be the Ray-Ban Wayfarer. The wayfarer sunglasses were designed in 1952 by American optical designer Raymond Stegeman. The design was a new shape. According to design critic Stephen Bayley, the "distinctive trapezoidal frame spoke a non-verbal language that hinted at unstable dangerousness, but one nicely tempered by the sturdy arms which, according to the advertising, gave the frames a 'masculine look.'" Ray Ban Wayfarers, which took advantage of new plastic molding technology, marked the transition between a period of eyewear made from thin metal frames to an era of plastic eyewear.
After the Wayfarer had its top popularity in the 1950s and 1960s, sales started to decline. Though Wayfarers' cultural popularity was boosted in 1980, due to the classic film The Blues Brothers, only 18,000 pairs were sold in 1981 and Wayfarers were on the verge of discontinuation. The sunglasses' fate was reversed when in 1982 Ray-Ban signed a 50,000 dollar-a-year deal with Unique Product Placement of Burbank, California, to use Ray-Bans in movies and television shows. Between 1982 and 1987, Ray-Ban sunglasses appeared in over 60 movies and television shows per year. Tom Cruise wearing Wayfarers in the 1983 movie Risky Business marked the beginning of a Wayfarers phenomenon; 360,000 pairs were sold that year. By 1986, after appearances in Miami Vice, Moonlighting, and The Breakfast Club, sales had reached 1.5 million. Wayfarers rose to popularity.
As the 1990s began the frames became unpopular. In 2001 the frames underwent a significant redesign with the frames made smaller and less angular, and changed from acetate to a lighter injected plastic. Wayfarers were brought back into fashion in the late 2000s when celebrities including Chloë Sevigny and Mary-Kate Olsen began wearing vintage frames. As of October 2007, the Wayfarer was the Luxottica Group's third-best-selling style, making it a truly iconic piece of eyewear.
This list would not be complete without the most iconic shoe in history, the stiletto. The stiletto has been around for many years, as early as the 19th century. The shoe was worn mostly as an erotic or fetish symbol but gained popularity as a fashion item in the 1950s. In the early 1960s, the stiletto gained a more elegant shape when the toes of the shoe were designed to be as slender and elongated as the stiletto heels themselves. The stiletto heel shoe faded from the fashion scene after the Beatle era began, but their popularity continued in street fashion, and women stubbornly refused to give them up even after they could no longer readily find them in the mainstream shops
A version of the stiletto heel was reintroduced in 1974 by Manolo Blahnik, who dubbed his "new" heel the Needle. Similar heels were stocked at the Biba store in London, by Russell & Bromley and by smaller boutiques. In the eighties stilettos were frequently worn at the office with wide-shouldered power suits. The stiletto almost completely disappeared during the 1990s, when women started wearing shoes with thick, block heels. The stiletto staged a major comeback after 2000, when young women adopted the style for dressing up office wear or adding a feminine touch to casual wear, like jeans. A shoe style that lasts through the centuries must be an iconic fashion item.
These are the most iconic pieces of fashion to date. These items have a history that has had them become more than just a trendy must have, they have become legendary in the world of fashion and style.
Dominique Dixon, is a writer and a fashion and lifestyle blogger at Fab Dutchness. As a fashion blogger, it is essential to be in the know when it comes to the industry and it's developments. Dominique has a great passion for discovering and sharing the latest news in the fashion industry.