Little Black Dress
|Synonyms:||LBD, Fandom bicycle|
|See also:||Crossover, Crossover Pairing|
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Little Black Dress (LBD) refers to a character who, like a little black dress, "goes with anything." Also known as a Fandom Bicycle, where "everyone gets a ride." These are characters who are easily paired with almost any other character, including crossover characters from other fandoms.
Types of LBDs
Little Black Dress characters come in several varieties, depending on the fandom and community.
A character who pairs well with many other characters within a given fannish source text may be considered a Little Black Dress. Malcolm Reynolds, Spike and Methos are often considered LBDs in this sense. Professional Wrestling is unique in giving many particular characters the LBD role (such as John Cena, Randy Orton, Jeff Hardy and Evan Bourne, for example) -- it is suggested that this is because of the often random nature of feuds, and storylines.
LBD can also refer to a character who is often written into a wide range of crossover pairings. Like single-fandom LBDs, crossover LBDs are usually canonically flirtatious, and in rare cases, canonically bisexual.
Multi-fandom LBDs also often have canonical attributes that help writers to plausibly cross them over with many different fandoms, such as being extremely long-lived, like Methos and Captain Jack Harkness; or extremely well-traveled, like Dean Winchester or Faith from the Buffyverse.
Some characters are considered LBDs in both their source fandoms and in a multi-fandom sense, including Captain Jack and Tony Stark.
Some fans also use "little black dress" to indicate a character that they like so much, they will read absolutely any story involving this character, no matter the pairing. By this definition, any character can be an individual fan's personal "little black dress." Similar concepts include the bulletproof kink and the Beloved Slash Object.
History of the term
Googling "Little black dress fandom" brings up results from Severus Snape to Vala Mal Doran, but Alex Krycek seems to have been the original "little black dress of fandom." One of the earlier examples of the term applied to Krycek was the "Little Black Dress Challenge," run by Te.
- "And really, that's what it boils down to. All sorts of characters can be crossed over into other fandoms -- that whole recurring vs. regular thing can be a Godsend to those of us who like fucking with canon even more than usual -- but, well, Alex Krycek is more than that. [...] From Skippy to half-starved Rentboy to brutal Russian General to cold Operative to however else he's shown up, there are about a million ways to present him that can *all* be made to fit into canon. Some canon. Whichever canon it is this week."
Whether this challenge is the original source of the term "little black dress" or whether it merely popularized an existing phrase is unknown. In Buffy fandom the term was popularized by Anna S, who said "Spike is a little black dress. He goes with everything, everyone."  Anna wrote Krycek slash in the X-files fandom, and most likely first encountered the term there.
Communities & Challenges
Some of these are still active; others are closed challenges.
- Black Dress Lex - Crossover comm for Lex Luthor
- Omnijaxual - a fest "that celebrates Jack Harkness'... willingness, desire, even, to do everything and anything (not human)"
- Of Alex Krycek and Crossovers - possibly the original LBD challenge
- "Krycek was, so far as I know, the original little black dress of fandom" comment by Gryphonrhi, posted April 26, 2008, in the "Poll: Crossovers, Oh My" post of thefourthvine, . (Accessed October 4, 2008)
- Te, Of Alex Krycek and Crossovers Page last updated April 1, 2001. (Accessed October 4, 2008)
- Te, Neep Page last updated April 1, 2001. (Accessed October 4, 2008)
- Quoting Anna S., The Spike Zone of the BTVS Writer's Guild Page last updated October 15, 2005. (Accessed October 4, 2008)