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Somethings Are Timeless: The Wrap Dress

Fashion Trends

Somethings Are Timeless: The Wrap Dress

In today’s contemporary world of fast fashion, it’s rare that a style or silhouette will stay on trend for very long. Often, different cuts will come and go, barely lasting a season before something new comes along. However, there is one iconic exception, the ever timeless wrap dress.

Contrary to popular belief the first wrap dresses wasn’t designed by Diane von Furstenberg. It was designed by Elsa Schiaparelli in the 1930’s. One of Elsa’s more famous quotes noted the challenges of creating new deigns.

“I found that it was a most difficult and unsatisfying art because as soon as a dress is born, it has already become a thing of the past,”

That isn’t true of the daring wrap dress. The key part of the design is the drape of the fabric. Having a stretchable, fluid fabric enables the dress to mold to a woman’s shape and move with her making it the most universally wearable dress in the history of fashion.

Model Bettina Jones wearing a Schiaparelli Pinafore evening wrap dress of satin with a bow on the side and a low V-neckline which extends to the waist in the back; Model stands between columns with gilt-like finish and low table with vase of flowers behind

Another designer swept up in the wave of the wrap dress was Charles James, also in the 1930s. Obsessed with the body and its sensuality, James’ cut further accentuated the figure. The designer created a clinging sheath that “spiraled” around the body, clasping at the hip or zipping across the torso.

While the dress took on a sophisticated air at first glance, James had something very different in mind when designing his wrap dress. He christened it the “Taxi Dress,” because he wanted to create a dress that “a woman could slip into-or out of- in the back of a cab.”

Charles James “Taxi” dress (1932) designed for a woman to slip in (or out of) in a taxi.

Today the leading lady in wrap dress design is none other than Diane von Furstenburg. Her wrap dress, created in 1976, made her a worldwide sensation, a fashion mogul and a living icon.

Diane von Furstenberg in the original wrap dress (1976)

Now as ubiquitous as the little black dress, the wrap dress has been reinvented by every important fashion house over the past 80 years.

Black and ecru crêpe wrap dress by Proenza Schouler (2016)

The wrap dress created by Dior for Summer 2016 is an exceptional example of this, especially when modeled on Hollywood leading actress Jennifer Lawrence.

Jennifer Lawrence in Dior’s Miss Dior campaign wearing a printed wrap dress (2016)

Somethings are simply timeless.

About The Author

Nichelle Cole is the founder & creative director of The Fashion Plate magazine. A respected writer, stylist and influencer, she has been published in fashion magazines around the world.

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