Listen, it’s hard for me to get all het up about a little black dress anymore. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE black and wear a ton of it. Half the dresses in my regular circulation are black and I wouldn’t have it any other way, but I’ve built up a tolerance. I need more to get that same high. Most of my black dresses are useful because they serve as a backdrop to a tremendous scarf or a piece of statement jewelry or dramatic makeup.
Although Coco “What’s a little Nazi-sympathizing between friends” Chanel was said to have originated the idea of the LBD, it’s really Cristobal Balenciaga who made it into something.
When boy genius Nicolas Ghesquière took the reins at Balenciaga (you can thank him for the gladiator sandal trend, btw) he focused on bringing back the razor-sharp cutting that made the house famous. Ever since then, he almost always starts his shows with a handful of incredible mercilessly precise silhouettes, often in black.
My favorite collection of his in recent memory was his Fall 2008 RTW collection which featured a series of brutal, sculptural black dresses. The sort of thing one of the Addicted to Love girls would wear if they needed to kill someone at a cocktail party in the year 3000.
I love the severity, the austerity of these looks. However, it’s well nigh impossible to do severe and modern when your body is all soft and cushy and romantic. I’ve never once in my life pulled off “modern” (everything turns to either 1927 or 1951 on me, whether I like it or not) and can only manage severe because with hair and heels I am six feet three inches of first rate bitch and that sort of inner quality just shines through.
So it’s about finding a look with some of the same ideas as these robo-vixen that translates well into something that is *gasp* actually wearable. Like this, from former Halston designer Randolph Duke:
This would be particularly good for the big girl who wants to draw attention to her shoulders and perhaps balance out the visual proportion of between shoulder and hips. I think I’d like a more colorful/interesting belt (something with a lot of aggressive modern hardware, or maybe two skinny belts in fuchsia and orange?) better than boring-but-serviceable black one that comes with it, but otherwise I’d leave the accessories at a minimum. Maybe a pair of racing gloves. Vroom.