Black dominates almost every facet of fashion.
From men’s suits and tuxedos to women’s businessy blazers and slacks and to yes, of course, walking along the red carpet.
It’s flattering, it’s classic and it can be straight up basic.
It’s hard to find things that don’t match with black. It’s just so darn easy.
With black there’s no risk, no adventure, no chances taken in the field of fashion.
You can accessorize. Throw on a colorful shoe, or drape gold, silver and gems galore on necks, wrists and ears and you’ve got something a little more dazzling.
Black is a canvas, and you add style with other elements. Paint on a face and then put your arty self out into the world.
Not all black gowns are created equal though. Some are quite stunning. Some aim for great heights but fall horribly flat.
Here’s the red carpet throwdown of black gowns on the town.
Dita von Teese at the British Fashion Awards
Did someone say sexy witch? Because this is what I’m seeing here.
Unlike her usual uber-glam, pin-up style, this number gives Ms. Von Teese a little mystery.
This is classic Hollywood without too much frill.
Low-cut front, wrapped shape around her middle and the staggered hem that really sets it apart from what could be boring,
She looks like an even more elegant Elvira.
And it’s a good look for her.
Casting spells with her magical, burlesque powers von Teese is looking mad fine in black.
Selena Gomez at the Unicef Snowflake Ball
I understand how you might think I’d hate this. Or that people in general might hate it.
It’s got what could be considered strange proportions.
There is glitter and a lot of fabric and textures being mixed together.
This could look like some 80s Christmas party soap opera reject gown, but it doesn’t. It looks hot.
Mixing a sultry figure-skater vibe with some architectural columns is definitely working for this gown.
It wins a gold medal at the fashion Olympics.
It’s a classy black number with pizzazz and sparkle and Gomez still looks like a young woman while wearing it and not that she’s playing dress up.
Or impersonating a mother of the bride, which always makes for tragic results.
Famke Janssen at the Gotham Independent Film Awards
So close, Famke, so close.
This dress could have worked, but little details are just a bit off.
The petals of lace on the bottom are delicate and flattering, but every one on top is causing me sartorial distress.
The empire waist seems twee on a bombshell like Famke.
The sleeve is a fine length, but the ruching or rustling near the elbow is odd to say the least.
It’s got a mock neck. In lace.
Why is there a mock turtleneck? In lace?
These things don’t seem right unless she’s auditioning to play the goth girl in the corner in a remake of My So Called Life.
There is a velveteen bow. A bow. This adds to the twee factor. And it can be difficult for black to look twee.
If this dress had been tight and bereft of that bow, Famke would have been on fire.
Olivia Palermo at Marie Claire Prix de la Mode 2012
Palermo looks gorgeous. It’s hard for his socialite turned model turned personality to look not gorgeous.
Her genes are blessed by beauty. Those cheekbones, eyes and lips are glorious.
But, and there’s always a but, this whole look falls into the simple category.
So simple it might as well disappear.
While von Teese portrays an alluring wiccan siren, poor Palermo looks like a witchy wallflower. Drab and easily ignored.
The only piece of interest on the garment is that sparkly collar. It looks like a depressing Christmas garland.
Not the look for a fashion awards night. If she was really magical, she could make herself disappear.
Jessica Biel at the Los Angeles “Hitchcock” Premier
Sometimes all there is to say, to quote Amy Winehouse, is, “No, no, no!
Oh, Biel, what have you done to yourself this time?
Truly, Biel is one of the worst-dressed ladies in the pop-culture kingdom.
How often she tries to get all avant-garde in her fashion choices, only to flail around in something strange and uninviting, like what you see before you.
There are fins. On her boobs. Boob fins.
And that neckline is just a non-starter. It cuts right into her clavicle and somehow jumps right down into my gag reflex.
It’s not the subject of our current conversation, but that shade of lipstick is the icing on the flat cake.
It looks literally ripped from a piping bag, full of sugary frosting set aside for a four-year-old's princess-themed party.
If not for those crazy and completely terrifying boob fins, this entire dress would be a mug of Sleepy-time for the eyes.
So, kudos Biel, for not wearing the snooziest dress.
But also no kudos, because boob fins.