Tuesday, Nov 29, 2022

Dark Nights

If,like me,you’ve been finding yourself reaching for your old black faithful in the back of your closet,blame it on the rain.

If,like me,you’ve been finding yourself reaching for your old black faithful in the back of your closet,blame it on the rain. After all,who would want to be caught bedraggled in anything but black? Its pitch darkness and opacity render us safe and one always feels chic when in black.

Then there’s also the romance the monsoon brings with it. And more often than not,when a woman wants to feel alluring,she reaches for her little black dress. “What makes a simple sheath — devoid of any ornamentation,the colour of mourning — so luminous? Why is it that a little black dress seems so familiar,while at the same time,so mysterious and seductive?” asks Amy Holman Edelman in her book The Little Black Dress.

This has to be one of fashion’s greatest lies. If the colour of the night is so seductive,it is also funereal in most major cultures around the world. Of course,we instantly recall Audrey Hepburn and Breakfast at Tiffany’s,but wasn’t Jackie Onassis such a memorable picture of elegance in mourning at JFK’s funeral,too?

The truth is that wearing black is not enough; how you wear it is the key. Hepburn upped her glamour with long gloves,dark sunglasses and all those diamonds. And Onassis’ pared down,pale-faced vulnerability brought out a wholly different image. (And honestly,can anyone describe the dress either of these ladies wore?)

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Coco Chanel,for whom the little black dress never went out of style,had warned us: “The Scheherazade is easy; a little black dress,that’s very difficult.” Just because it’s black doesn’t mean it’s going to make you feel like a million dollars. You could end up looking drab,or like an aging socialite,or menacing. If you wear it one size smaller — as many are wont to — black will certainly not be slimming. Black can also be dull and uninventive,like a pair of jeans.

But after all the very scary colour-blocking that many of us tried to disastrous results,thank God that fail-safe black is almost the new black once again (it never goes away for too long,does it?) I especially like the noir skirts from Donna Karan and Diane von Furstenberg,but Vera Wang,Vivienne Westwood’s Anglomania and Halston Heritage have a near-dazzling line of evening frocks (all available on Net-a-porter.com). Marc Jacobs has some neat blouses and Lanvin’s dresses will have men ask for your phone number. Both Jimmy Choo and Christian Louboutin (who sell out of stores in Mumbai and Delhi) have a new line-up of raven shoes (check Louboutin’s spiky Alti 140 pumps). Sabyasachi always has a range of saris in his favourite shades of charcoal.

The colour of midnight always needs drama. Wear it with a pair of bright,shimmery or crazy shoes. Try make-up that’s luminescent,and with less colour (with the exception of red lips,naturally). Carry an interesting handbag that’s anything but black. Bare some skin.

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Bring it on,if not for fashion than to mourn the death of Mumbai’s once-glamorous nightlife.namratanow@gmail.com

First published on: 27-06-2012 at 03:41:48 am
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