The Little Black Dress
The Little Black Dress by ALAN NAFZGER
The Little Black Dress – Pecan Street Press
Lubbock ● Austin ● Fort Worth
The Little Black Dress is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
The Little Black Dress Copyright © 2014 Alan Nafzger
All rights reserved.
the little black dress
Written by Alan Nafzger
the little black dress FADE IN
TITLE SEQUENCE BEGINS
INT. MOSCOW VOGUE MAGAZINE OFFICE – DAY – 2015
ZINA is the most beautiful character in this film. She is the first of the women that the audience will see and then also the last they will see before leaving the theater. Later, in the film’s last scene, she is wearing the little black dress and it will look like it was made for her. This film is about three women who lived through the Russian Revolution, but it is primarily about ZINA and her dress.
ZINA works as an associate editor at Russia’s most popular fashion magazine – VOGUE. We see her busy at her desk.
An INTERN from the mailroom brings some clothes by ZINA’s desk.
What do you want me to do with these?
Let me see them?
Evidently people randomly send them clothes, looking for publicity. The INTERN holds them up, modeling them. They look okay but ZINA and VOGUE have very sophisticated style. ZINA wrinkles her nose. The INTERN automatically agrees with ZINA; they aren’t very attractive.
Throw them in there, please.
The INTERN opens the door and throws them into the closet.
ZINA looks at the clock on the wall. It is almost time to leave for the day.
ZINA gets up from her desk and walks to the window. She looks down and across the street. There is a female vagrant. However, she is Moscow’s most fashionable vagrant. She is wearing bright colors and from a distance might look very trendy.
ZINA goes to the strange closet opens it and take out some clothes. It is the “lost and found” closet of VOGUE. Clothes come in and are photographed and evaluated and then generally not returned. They are placed in the closet. Models steal many of the clothes but there always seems to be clothes in the closet that are never photographed.
EXT. MOSCOW STREET – DAY
ZINA, in normal work attire, leaves her work and walks on the sidewalk. She glances at her watch.
If he will kindly agree, there is a cameo appearance by Alexandre Vassiliev. Alexandre gives this film instant credibility. He has a flare for life and style and this will transfer to the character of ZINA. Alexandre’s presence in the first scene, will communicate a lot of important information to the audience in only a few seconds.
Alexandre is leaving the building at the same time ZINA is leaving. Alexandre is wearing a beautiful scarf and he is wearing his trademark rings on both hands. He speaks very well, soft and with humor! I would recommend that the director allow Alexandre to adlib as he has insight into this story. Alexandre will also make a great art/costume director.
Zina, I meant to tell you today; you look great. How very sharp you are dressing this season. Have a nice weekend.
Oh, thank you Alexandre. Nice scarf. You too.
Alexandre moves on about his business.
ZINA looks back at the office building and seems to be glad to be out of there. There is a faint smile as she has escaped for the weekend. The knows her weekend will not be monotonous.
ZINA walks across the street and greets the homeless woman. Barbara drinks too much and isn’t a totally mentally able person. Her skin is like leather and seriously wrinkled. Her skin is dark from exposure to the sun. She has an odd body type and while she has nice clothes, they are ill fitting. However, the fashion industry seems to have adopted the woman.
My! Barbara, you look nice today. Look at those colours? Your jacket is so nifty.
This is nicer than the outfit you were wearing this morning.
You think so?
I do. I really do.
Natalia Valevskaya gave me this!
BARBARA points in the direction of Valevskaya’s studio and she models her outfit.
What are you going to wear tonight?
Barbara hold ups the clothes she was just handed. She looks questioningly at ZINA.
You have a date tonight?
No, not tonight. The men need to rest tonight.
Well sure, that might be fine for tonight?
Tomorrow I will bring you a nice dress, in case you have a date.
Barbara giggles like a young girl.
May I take your picture?
I always let you, Zina. Of course!
ZINA takes a photo of Barbara and her outfit every time they run into each other, giving the homeless woman 150 rubles in return for each portrait.
ZINA is compassionate and unafraid. The implication is that ZINA must be a friend with everyone. Also you can look at this act of charity and also art. Barbara is a canvas and ZINA paints with the discarded clothes.
ZINA has a theory that even the most destitute women can be made to feel valuable if given a nice outfit.
Over the course of a couple of years, the two women have formed a unique friendship, somehow managing to regularly find each other on the Moscow streets to exchange a clothes, few words and have a quick photo.
Barbara, of course, is the best-dressed homeless woman in Moscow. For more on Barbara visit http://wp.me/p4CWwY-Hm
INT. MOSCOW METRO – DAY
ZINA enters the underground and then enters a car. It is the typical day after work and she is not animated. Of course her feet hurt and she is tired. She, like everyone else in the car, shows no emotion. Their feet hurt also. ZINA again glances at her watch.
EXT. MOSCOW STREET – DAY
ZINA exits the Metro and walks a block or two.
TITLE SEQUENCE IS SUSPENDED
INT. MOSCOW DRY CLEANERS – DAY
ZINA enters the shop and produces a ticket. The LADY working there fetches the titular “little black dress” on a hanger. It is wrapped in a semi-transparent plastic wrap.
ZINA is a little nervous. The dress is delicate and also it is important to her personally. The dress is also historic.
It cleaned well.
ZINA is relieved and pays.
I was afraid it wouldn’t be ready. Or that it wouldn’t stand up to the cleaning.
It is delicate but I can’t find a flaw on it at all.
That is good. I have a big date tonight.
Can I ask you about this dress?
I’m afraid that I don’t know too much. It was my great-grandmother’s. She was in the revolution.
It is marvellous. This dress must have seen some interesting times. Have a nice time, dear.
TITLE SEQUENCE CONTINUES
EXT. MOSCOW STREET – DAY
ZINA exits the Metro and walks a block or two to her apartment. She has the dress over her shoulder and she is somewhat animated. She walks with more life now. Just carrying the dress gives ZINA a certain vitality. She looks up to the sun. She actually smiles. Her confidence and euphoria are obvious. She really does have a date tonight!
INT. MOSCOW APARTMENT – DAY
ZINA enters her Moscow apartment. She takes the dress out of the plastic and hangs it on the exterior of her wardrobe. She glances at her old shoes. She takes a new pair of shoes out of a box. She places them under the dress. She steps back and looks at them together.
ZINA undresses and enters the shower.
END TITLE SEQUENCE
INT. SHIP MOVING IN THE NORTH SEA – DAY – 1915
NEWSPAPER HEADLINE “Lusitania Torpedoed Without Warning”
ELIZABETH is the second most beautiful woman in this film. She is a dark-haired, dark-eyed Petrograd beauty keenly sought by the young and fashionable men. She is in a parlor area with a GOVERNESS/COMPANION and an older Russian couple.
ELIZABETH is from an aristocratic family; she is 20 and this is her first trip to Europe. Her father an AMBASSADOR, with business in London. He is on board.
The RUSSIAN COUPLE must bite their lips to keep from laughing as the COMPANION is reading a list of rules.
A proper family will train a lady early in life to prepare herself for a life dedicated to home and family if she is married, and charity if she doesn’t.
I’m going to be married.
Well we are going to England.
Clearly the reason she is on the trip, as she sees it, is to find a husband. As her father sees it, she is on the trip to become more refined.
And young ladies, though advised on the importance of catching a man, are warned not to be too liberal in display of their charms. Meekness and modesty were considered beautiful virtues.
Well, okay if you insist.
Invitations will be sent at least seven to ten days before the day fixed for a social event, and should be replied to within three days of their receipt, accepting or declining with regrets.
How many events will there be?
The AMBASSADOR enters the room with several other young men – his staff. Everyone stands up – the COMPANION, ELIZABETH, the RUSSIAN COUPLE.
Mr. Ambassador. How are you?
Fine. Fine. No worries.
Have they spotted any submarines?
Oh, No. No. No worries.
The AMBASSADOR looks annoyed at the RUSSIAN MAN.
No. No. That was a lucky fluke. We are perfectly safe now we are in the wide open North Sea. There isn’t a German submarine for hundreds of miles. I understand they have been chased back to Germany.
The RUSSIAN WOMAN doesn’t look less worried.
The AMBASSADOR looks at the RUSSIAN MAN as if he needs to keep his wife under control. The men on the ship are just are nervous as the women.
The AMBASSADOR turns but then returns to face the woman.
Everyone is worried. Of course. But we are out in the open sea now. It would be very difficult for them to even find us out here.
The AMBASSADOR walks over to the COMPANION. She is nervous and places the book at her side. It almost looks as if she is hiding it. The AMBASSADOR takes the book and reads the cover title. He gives a strange look at the COMPANION; she seems an odd bird. There isn’t any reason to hide the book. It is very proper. The COMPANION is very nervous. And the AMBASSADOR glances at ELIZABETH who is also intimidated.
The AMBASSADOR is a stern no nonsense man. Perhaps he is more loving at home, and it may be the war and the stress of his job. We don’t know the weight of his mission but we can assume it is important.
The AMBASSADOR moves to exit the area. The COMPANION quickly begins reading so that the AMBASSADOR will hear something before he leaves. One YOUNG MAN on the staff notices ELIZABETH and can’t help stare. She doesn’t notice.
Never lend a borrowed book. Be particular to return one that has been loaned to you, and accompany it with a note of thanks.
The AMBASSADOR leaves the room and everyone sits again.
Rise to one’s feet as respect for an older person or dignitary.
Of course, we just did that.
What can I say? A true gentleman tips their hat to greet a lady, opens doors, and always walks on the outside.
ELIZABETH may or may not be listening.
Break bread or roll into morsels rather than eating the bread whole.
ELIZABETH seems to be looking around the room. She looks at a painting on the wall and the design of the furniture.
Conversation is not to talk continually, but to listen and speak in our turn.
ELIZABETH is bored and walks to a window and looks out.
While courting, a gentleman caller might bring only certain gifts such as flowers, candy or a book. A woman must not offer a gentleman any present at all until he has extended one to her, and then something artistic, handmade and inexpensive is permissible.
The little black dress
The little black dress (LBD) is a black evening or cocktail dress, cut simply and often quite short. Fashion historians ascribe the origins of the little black dress to the 1920s designs of Coco Chanel. It is intended to be long-lasting, versatile, affordable, and widely accessible. Its ubiquity is such that it is often simply referred to as the “LBD”.
The little black dress is considered essential to a complete wardrobe. Many[who?] fashion observers state that every woman should own a simple, elegant black dress that can be dressed up or down depending on the occasion. For example, the LBD can be worn with a jacket and pumps for daytime business wear. It can also be worn with ornate jewelry and accessories for evening wear or a formal event such as a wedding or ball.
History – little black dress
This section does not cite any sources. Please help improve this section by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. (March 2017) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
Black evening dress by Jean Patou
Black has always been a color rich in symbolism. In the early 16th century, black represented wealth among Spanish Aristocrats and Dutch merchants as it was incredibly expensive to produce the black color from “imported oak apples.” In the early 18th century, black represented romance and artistry. As Ann Demeulemeester said of it, “Black is poetic. How do you imagine a poet? In a bright yellow jacket? Probably not.” In the early 19th century, black was adopted by the Romantics such as Byron, Shelley, and Keats, due to its melancholic aura. As the Victorian era began, black transitioned from a color of art to one of grief and mourning – widows were expected to wear black for at least four years – and also for service livery, as the uniform for maids.
In 1926 Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel published a picture of a short, simple black dress in American Vogue. It was calf-length, straight and decorated only by a few diagonal lines. Vogue called it “Chanel’s Ford”. Like the Model T, the little black dress was simple and accessible for women of all social classes. Vogue also said that the LBD would become “a sort of uniform for all women of taste”. This, as well as other designs by the house of Chanel helped disassociate black from mourning, and reinvent it as the uniform of the high-class, wealthy, and chic. As Coco herself proclaimed, “I imposed black; it’s still going strong today, for black wipes out everything else around.”
The little black dress continued to be popular through the Great Depression, predominantly through its economy and elegance, albeit with the line lengthened somewhat. Hollywood’s influence on fashion helped the little black dress’s popularity, but for more practical reasons: as Technicolor films became more common, filmmakers relied on little black dresses because other colors looked distorted on screen and botched the coloring process. During World War II, the style continued in part due to widespread rationing of textiles, and in part as a common uniform (accessorized for businesswear) for civilian women entering the workforce.
The rise of Dior’s “New Look” in the post-war era and the sexual conservatism of the 1950s returned the little black dress to its roots as a uniform and a symbol of the dangerous woman. Hollywood femmes fatales and fallen women characters were portrayed often in black halter-style dresses in contrast to the more conservative dresses of housewives or more wholesome Hollywood stars. Synthetic fibres made popular in the 1940s and 1950s broadened the availability and affordability of many designs.
The generation gap of the 1960s created a dichotomy in the design of the little black dress. The younger “mod” generation preferred, in general, a miniskirt on their versions of the dress and designers catering to the youth culture continued to push the envelope – shortening the skirt even more, creating cutouts or slits in the skirt or bodice of the dress, using sheer fabrics such as netting or tulle. Many women aspired to simple black sheath dresses similar to the black Givenchy dress worn by Audrey Hepburn in the film Breakfast at Tiffany’s.
The popularity of casual fabrics, especially knits, for dress and business wear during the 1980s brought the little black dress back into vogue. Coupled with the fitness craze, the new designs incorporated details already popular at the time such as broad shoulders or peplums: later in the decade and into the 1990s, simpler designs in a variety of lengths and fullness were popular. The grunge culture of the 1990s saw the combination of the little black dress with both sandals and combat boots, though the dress itself remained simple in cut and fabric.
The new glamour of the late 1990s led to new variations of the dress but, like the 1950s and the 1970s, colour re-emerged as a factor in fashion and formalwear and repeatedly shows an aversion to black. The resurgence of body conscious clothing, muted colour schemes, and the reemergence of predominant black, along with the retrospective trends of the 1980s in the late 2000s paved way to the return of interest to the dress.
little black dress – Famous examples
The black Givenchy dress of Audrey Hepburn as Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, designed by Hubert de Givenchy, epitomized the standard for wearing little black dresses accessorized with pearls (together called “basic black”), as was frequently seen throughout the early 1960s. The dress set a record in 2006 when it was auctioned for £410,000, six times its original estimate.
Betty Boop, a cartoon character based in part on the 1920s it girl Helen Kane, was drawn wearing a little black dress in her early films, though with Technicolor later, Betty’s dress became red.
Wallis Simpson, Duchess of Windsor, was known to own several little black dresses and said much in praise of the garments. One quote of the Duchess: “When a little black dress is right, there is nothing else to wear in its place.”
Édith Piaf, the French folk icon, performed in a black sheath dress throughout her career: for this habit she was nicknamed “little black sparrow”. It was thought that the dress helped audiences focus more on Piaf’s singing and less on her appearance.
Diana, Princess of Wales wore a black Christina Stambolian dress to the Serpentine Gallery’s summer party hosted by Vanity Fair in June 1994, the night her husband Charles, Prince of Wales admitted to having an adulterous affair with Camilla Parker Bowles. Diana’s dress has been likened to a “little black dress”.
In an incident at London’s Covent Garden theatre in 2004, a director fired the then-obese soprano Deborah Voigt from an opera because she could not fit into a “little black cocktail dress”, replacing her with the slimmer Anne Schwanewilms.
Originally posted 2022-01-17 13:31:01.