It's been said that Cristobal Balenciaga's 1957 sack dress supposedly inspired the premise for Federico Fellini's 1960 morality tale, La Dolce Vita. The sack dress, "rendered a woman gorgeous who could be a skeleton of squalor and solitude inside" not unlike the flip-side of the "sweet life" the film portrays.
The premise is just as relevant in today's celebrity-obsessed world as it was at its release. The costumes are equally timeless. The movie introduced the world to Italian style, which is synonymous with luxury fashion that's equally elegant and sexy. This timeless film is also an ode to the ultimate fashion staple — a little black dress.
The costumes in La Dolce Vita are the epitome of 1950s femininity and early 1960s chic. What's striking is their simplicity. The styles were chosen clearly to compliment the actress's shape. Anouk Aimée plays wealthy playgirl Maddalena, wears only three different costumes — two little black sheath dresses and a simple V-neck sweater. Anika Ekberg's wardrobe is equally elegant but created to compliment her curves. Every woman in the film wears some form of a little black dress, or a classic black and white dress. The color of the costumes tells the story as much as the dialogue.
Of all wardrobe staples, the little black dress is the one iconic item nearly every designer can agree on no matter their aesthetic or origin. It isn't French, Italian, or American. It's the global sartorial symbol of classic, elegant style.