Black is ever Back

(Babbleon revisits blasts from Voxfrock’s past or, the more fashion changes the more it stays the same thrilling cyclic mishmash it ever was.)

I have seen some eye-popping things in my 30-odd years spinning through this frockosphere. Men in frocks; full-body condoms; girls on stilts; frocks on wheels. Gobsmackery Pty Ltd. That’s fashion. But it’s the implacable power of black that hasn’t yet, and never will, cease to amaze me … tiny daily revelation after tiny revelation.
Black is fashion’s gift to all men and women but particularly women: miraculous, transformative, marvellous.

“Black is fashion’s gift to all men and women…”

That fact struck me like a lightning bolt as I looked down on my first funeral from a church choir loft in 1970something. Below, a hundred or so country-town neighbours and friends arrived in murmuring clusters and pairs and dispersed into polished oak pews for the mass. I was tenderly 10-ish, vain as a peacock (but unfairly stunted by a wardrobe of hand-me-downs), and instantly mesmerised by the black beauty below.
“How lovely,” I thought, forgetting to sing. “How utterly, utterly, utterly . . .” For there, for example, was Mrs X, a mother of many annoying children, jiggling girth, a continental shelf of a bosom and four warring waistlines, whose usual ill-fitting, faded nylon, floral Osti dress was replaced on this rare, wonderful day by a neat, black tailored jacket and matching A-line knee skirt.

“How lovely,” I thought, forgetting to sing. “How utterly, utterly, utterly . . .”

Was this elegant sophisticate the same dowdy woman who sweated pebbles on tuck shop duty and wore her frayed Mother’s Day slippers to get the bins in? And here, look, was Mrs Y, a wizened, whippet- thin busybody of a woman loathed by every teen on whom she relentlessly tattled in our small town. Her fondness for drab, sack-like frocks and beige coats and mantillas on Sunday was common knowledge, bland as breath. But today, here she was, dolled up like Holly Golightly in a chic mourning-black sheath and cardie draped across fashion- model shoulders. The revelation!
In Paris, could any woman be as elegant as this country dozen at Mr Z’s funeral?
Precisely. And so the universal sartorial miracle of black sank indelibly in, and keeps on sinking.
Lovely black. Flattering black. Slimming, sophisticated, noble and beautiful black.
At 10,I was far too green to grasp that black also has a complex sensual power. I caught up fast with that extra fact at 15, however, when a black brassiere and matching underpants sent my mother quite barmy: “Ab. Sol. Ute. Ly. Not. Take. Them. Back. Now!” Bewildered, I did. It took years to twig, though, why the Catholic hysteria. Who knew black cotton underpants were evidence a devil-slut-maiden-of-darkness-in-
the-bud lurked within me?
Well, we know now. And we move on. We return to black’s transformative essence. Like a dark pencil or inky brush stroke, black can smooth and sharpen and flatly conceal what is smudged, or lumpy,
or chaotic beneath. Tailored black can exert a look of business-like or dignified calm. Shapely black draws madam’s preferred silhouette. Extravagant, voluminous, generously draped; black is as arty-farty as you might be assumed to be for wearing it. (I have seen women swathed in layers of cunningly contrived designer black, the resulting silhouette not more sensual than a burnt bush hut and still their hidden depths are more fascinating to me than any floral-frocked Botoxed peer.)

“We return to black’s transformative essence. Like a dark pencil or inky brush stroke, black can smooth and sharpen and flatly conceal.’..

Black is a chameleon: add diamonds for cocktails, white lace for church.
Black, if it is fashioned simply, floats above fashion, transcending its come-and-go trends, only dropping down occasionally into a particular season, to excite a new generation
before it moves back into the realm of the classics. In fact, this is the trouble with black in recent years: too much; too many. Too often has black been declared the new black. All the little girls better suited
to pinks and purples and peachy bandeau tops and tight slip frocks have embraced our black for more than the occasional season and are clinging on far longer than they should or is fair.
Black, in this girly guise can appear a whisker short of insipid. Black can become almost cu-uuuuuute. Black – my beloved black! – can make me scream inside.
This black is mine, ours. It belongs to we who treasure its mystery, understand its loaded depths and graphic edges, its arty calm and elegant chic.
Is that you, dear reader? Are you one of us? Or just pop black on because, well, it’s back?


#small budget blacks

  • Among winter’s less expensive black frock-offerings are these two ensembles. Many of the bits are exclusive to Westfield’s curated winter 2013 styling kit which includes professional advice and guidelines for piecing winter’s key looks together, Pictured, Left, BARDOT pleather tank top $59.95, CITY CHIC vinyl skater skirt $79.95 (in sizes up to 22), TARGET clutch ouse $30, NOVO “Viola” boots $89.95, CUE belt $115, DIVA bangle $15 and ringlet $13. Right, FOREVER NEW “Sara” jacket $160, PORTMANS top $49.95, JEANSWEST “Paula” ponte pants $40 and SPEND-LESS “Wildfire Hazard” heels $49.95.

#medium budget blacks

  • Kate Sylvester “Valentina” silk shirt $375 an “Jia” trousers $345, (02) 6689 7572, (Source: The Photo Diner)
  • and
  • Georgia Osborne “Napoleon” suede/ponti leggings $319, “Hudson” duffle $609, and block-contrast silk shirt in white and beluga $359, all scheduled for late April delivery. For stockists: (02) 9319 4599,, and (Source: The Photo Diner)
  • and
  • Collette Dinnigan mini kaftan with white embroidery $279, (03) 9349 8561,
  • As reported in The Australian, Miss Dinnigan chose this frock for global press shots after her RTW AW 13/14 show in Paris last week:




#big budget black

  • Chanel, Fall-Winter ready-to-wear 2013-14 (unpriced),