Beyonce glided onto the stage last Sunday to accept her 20th Grammy Award wearing a plunging V-neck, jet-black Proenza Schouler gown. Gwen Stefani topped Forbes’ Best Dressed fashion list rocking a midnight Versace jumpsuit with Kanye West following suit, shunning color and uniformity in a daring low-cut black velvet ensemble and a dangling gold chain.
During a night when creativity and vivaciousness filled the air, some of the biggest stars opted to wear muted shades on the red carpet by paying tribute to black, the staple swatch that supersedes trends.
“[Black] is everywhere—it’s in every era,” Tori Sparks, a junior fashion merchandising major at California State University, Long Beach, said. “You can never go wrong with it; it’s classic.”
The power of the one-toned look isn’t new to the fashion world. The timeless ventures into darkness have been molded and reinvented time and time again through new innovative looks.
Throughout history, miles of studded runways have featured fashion luminaries like Coco Chanel coining the “little black dress” and Karl Lagerfeld with his somber, signature look: the traditional suit, skinny pants and onyx sunglasses. Fashion icon Audrey Hepburn pioneered the color into her image, inviting a simple pair of ebony ballet flats and a turtleneck as the new everyday go-to. The knee-length knockout gown she dawned in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” paired with pearls and a tall cigarette holder introduced a new sense of elegance and class to Hollywood.
Even through the bleakest fads of the ‘90s A-List – the neon-colored windbreakers, golf visors, jean-everything and red-leather pants—minimalist pieces like Victoria Beckham’s Spice-Girl-chic tube dress triumphed. Although many refuse to remember, this dress shot her into stardom and served as the platform for her Hollywood merits today as a sage of style.
One of the “it” couples at the time, Johnny Depp and Winona Ryder, mastered the grunge look with messy hair and full black-and-white attire, complete with leather jackets.
Setting glamor aside, the melanoid wardrobe prides itself in being versatile yet effortless. It is the go-to color for busy college students.
“It’s easy to make black look formal, and it’s easy to make it look casual,” junior anthropology major Ashley Erickson a said. “Black is easiest to wear and easiest to get ready. Your [apparel] just automatically matches.”
The endless possibilities of abysmal color make it more playful than people might imagine, according to CSULB senior fashion merchandising major Kevin Fernando.
“Even if you buy a cheap dress in black with cheap jewelry, it can look expensive,” Fernando said. “It tricks the eye; there’s an illusionary factor to it.”
Additionally, brands such as DKNY have used black to break boundaries and challenge limiting conventions in the industry. Their ad campaigns have been known to take the gender out of fashion by dressing female models in sleek black menswear.
“Black is a color that’s not going to go away,” Fernando said.