July 3, 2014

Courtesy: CHCH, July 2, 2014

Vogue magazine famously compared a 1926 short, black, Chanel dress to the Model T-Ford — timeless and elegant. Now, the Oakville museum is celebrating black’s lasting impact on women’s fashion in a new exhibition called “50 Shades of Black.”

The exhibition includes 50 black dresses from the past 150 years. There is a story behind each of the pieces — many of which, were worn or owned by Oakville women.

You don’t have to be Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s to look amazing in a little black dress.

The classic look spans generations.

And variations of what is now a wardrobe staple can be traced back — in Oakville’s history at least — for 150 years in a new exhibition called “50 Shades of Black.”

Carolyn Cross is the Oakville Museum Curator of Collections: “This dress was given to us by Dora Matthews and she was appointed the fashion coordinator of Eaton’s Fashion bureau.”

Like this late 40′s couture, each of the dresses in the Oakville museum’s collection has a story. Curator Carolyn Cross says many of the pieces were worn by Oakville residents: “It’s really not a simple a simple chronology of black clothing it’s really about the women who wore them.”

From this this original Chanel: “It was worn by an Oakville woman who was a model and modeled in NYC and Paris.”

To mourning dresses inspired by Queen Victoria: “Imelda Chisholm who lived here in Oakville and this is the actual dress in the photograph

The collection is sure to impress history buffs, as well as fashionistas.

It wouldn’t be a 50 Shades exhibition without one grey dress. This wool Lanvin from 1934.

But of all of the costumes in the museum’s extensive collection — it’s no wonder they chose black to be the star of this show: “To paraphrase Christian Dior, black really suits any shape, any age, any occasion really. It’s something that’s just a timeless piece.”

The self guided exhibition runs until September 14th at the Queen Elizabeth Park Community and Cultural Centre. And it’s free.

Watch the CHCH story here: http://www.chch.com/little-black-dress-exhibit/