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The Little White Dress

Fashion News
A white lace up fronted dress from Ralph Lauren.

By Jessica Michault

The eternal yin and yang of fashion means that if the Little Black Dress is the go-to look for fall and winter, then its polar opposite, the Little White Dress, is the must-have for the spring and summer seasons. Both are eternally chic sartorial choices, and a no-fail solution for just about any occasion.

Fashion designers’ ongoing fascination with the 1990s meant the return of the slip dress. Brands like Balenciaga, Saint Laurent, Burberry and Calvin Klein all went with this nostalgic look, hearkening back to an era that was arguably defined by the simple, silk slip dress. Who can forget the iteration Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy wore for her wedding to JFK, Jr? Some went more literal in their interpretation, like Hedi Slimane at Saint Laurent and Francisco Costa at Calvin Klein. Whereas Alexander Wang gave a sporty slant to his slip dresses.

Along those same lines, the inclusion of lingerie elements in summer dresses was another way that brands reworked the evergreen garment. Phoebe Philo at Céline, Riccardo Tisci at Givenchy and Michael Kors all explored this concept. And tangentially, so did Proenza Schouler with its long perforated dresses with covered button closures racing down the front.

It should also come as no surprise that the mix of white dresses and the intrigue of transparency would be another key style for summer. The art and allure of the suggestion of skin used in the layering of sheer fabrics or strategically placed peekaboo perforations were styles that got the blood pumping at Akris, Miu Miu, Christian Dior, Michael Kors and Valentino. 

Even those looking for more traditional interpretations of the Little White Dress are well served. Those cut from breathable cotton or feather light linen in classic silhouettes also had their time in the sun on a number of runways. You can always count on Ralph Lauren to come up with some great crisp white dresses. At Chloé, a youthful A-line short white dress would make the perfect piece for any budding ingénue. While Céline offered some great options for a slightly more avant garde wardrobe.


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