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Little Boring Dress? | Manolo for the Big Girl

Little Boring Dress?

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.

Balenciaga F2008 RTW look 1Balenciaga F2008 RTW look 2
Balenciaga F2008 RTW look 3Balenciaga F2008 RTW look 4

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:

randolph-duke.JPG
detail.JPG

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.

6 Responses to “Little Boring Dress?”

  1. gina August 6, 2009 at 2:55 pm #

    thanks for posting this! It’s a slightly more structured alternative to the B&Lu version, which omits the belt.
    I too, wish I could do ‘modern’ clothing; clean lines are much better suited to the office. But I can only wear my CK suit every now and again, as i am a lowly assistant and do not have cause to wear black pantsuits, no matter how sharp.

  2. mywhimsey August 6, 2009 at 3:36 pm #

    I love that dress – those seams and that waistline are super-flattering, and the neckline is to die for. But, how do I get it to fit a girl who is 6’3″ of (mostly) pure bitch without either hair or heels? B/c right now, those seams are going to go to super-unflattering places right across my chest.

  3. Frances @ Corpulent August 7, 2009 at 12:33 am #

    “Coco “What’s a little Nazi-sympathizing between friends” Chanel”

    That’s the best thing I’ve read all day. I am definitely going to shamelessly steal that the next time I have to refer to her in print.

  4. emmme August 7, 2009 at 2:07 pm #

    yeah, if I had to kill someone at a cocktail party in 3000 (brilliant), I’d def. be squeezing into dress No. 2. that line’s showing up somewhere in my conversation this weekend.

  5. Frank August 30, 2010 at 6:30 pm #

    Do you have any references for what you wrote right here?