In fashion, there is only one thing that is always in style: the little black dress, affectionately known as the LBD. Every woman owns at least one; most of us have several.
Fully deserving of its pedestal, it's the dress you can rely on when others have failed you. It's an item that enhances all sizes and all ages, and is suitable to wear to any occasion.
In an economic climate where we no longer buy anything unless we can almost guarantee years of wear, the LBD has never been more popular.
Responding to the twin challenges of the downturn and our new shopping habits, Delphine Grandjouan of the House of Delphine, one of the country's finest bridal designers, has produced a line of LBDs. Don't be alarmed, brides-to-be, this latest endeavour is only an aside from her staple. Rest assured that the award-winning, French-born designer is still producing the beautifully feminine gowns we have come to expect.
Her LBDs cost approximately €1,000 each -- a price which, for many, may seem excessive, but the average cost of a dress by a high-profile designer would be at least twice that. You are buying couture: something that has been lovingly handmade to suit your shape, and in fabrics sourced in Paris.
Delphine's LBDs have interesting shapes and a strong Sixties vibe. Many of the elements that have made her bridal designs so popular are evident: the seductive lace back, the cinched waist, the vintage undertones.
Delphine said: "I noticed my brides really enjoyed the experience of having something made for them, and they were saying: 'I'd love an excuse to get something made for me again.' It suits you so much better when something is made to fit your exact body. So I thought: 'What would be a garment that somebody could justify investing in?' So I decided a little black dress would make sense, because it's the kind of thing you can use a lot, and you can accessorise in various ways."
Delphine, who operates from a studio in Tralee, Co Kerry, is a very special designer -- one who cares too much about her work to cut corners. She has put the same level of work in to this collection of LBDs that she would put into a wedding dress, despite the fact that there is far less profit to be made.
At the moment, this latest endeavour of LBDs is a one-to-one service, but she hopes to wholesale the range soon. She is also designing a range of fabric-based accessories, belts and necklaces, to launch in March. "It's a relief to be working on something else," she laughed. "It keeps things exciting."
PHOTOGRAPHY BY KIM DOWON
WORDS BY ANDREA BYRNE
STYLING BY BAPTISTE PAGES
FASHION EDITED BY