Black. Colour of mystery and mortality, Anna Wintour hates it, while Abercrombie & Fitch banned employees from wearing it in their stores. For many though, black continues to be the anchor of style; a celebrated Gothicism and wardrobe staple.
The supposed ‘non-colour’ traces back to Neolithic cave paintings – now it is everywhere. It is the highest ranking ball on the snooker table. It sweeps throughout music, from Fleetwood Mac’s magic woman to Jay Z’s eponymous album, while The Rolling Stones told us to paint in it. In 1861, when Prince Albert died, Queen Victoria took to wearing black as everyday dress. Her decision to sport widows weeds resonated into everyday fashion, as people reconfigured her mourning into fashion. Subsequently it became the uniform of Coco Chanel, the beatniks and Johnny Cash.
For many designers, black is their mainstay: Gareth Pugh, Yohji Yamamoto and Rei Kawakubo all ground their collections in the inky hue, while Grace Coddington hardly wears anything else. To mark the approach of Halloween and the latest exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on Victorian and Edwardian mourning attire, we pick our ten favourite fashion quotes on black.
1. “You can wear black at any time. You can wear it at any age. You may wear it for almost any occasion.” — Christian Dior
2. “Women who wear black live colourful lives.” — Neiman Marcus
3. “Black is modest and arrogant at the same time. Black is lazy and easy — but mysterious. But above all black says this: I don’t bother you — don’t bother me.” — Yohji Yamamoto
4. “I love black because it affirms, designs and styles. A woman in a black dress is a pencil stroke.” — Yves Saint Laurent
5. “I work in three shades of black.” — Rei Kawakubo