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Little Black Dress party symbolizes truimph for women in past, present
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Brenda Martin, from left, Judy Morris, Elaine Black, Jennifer Roberts and Kelly Attaway pose for a photo after the awards ceremony. Martin, Morris, Roberts and Attaway all won in this year’s contest while Black was the 2013 winner and a cancer survivor. - photo by Erin O. Smith

Considered a timeless piece full of power, the “little black dress” is a fashion statement. That statement is usually one of confidence and ease for any woman who dons one.

With its origins credited to fashion designer Coco Chanel, the little black dress hit icon status when actress Audrey Hepburn donned one in the popular film “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.”

For women attending Glory, Hope and Life’s annual “Little Black Dress” party, however, the dress was symbolic. It was triumph over cancer, as women in the classic cocktail attire were cancer survivors or supporters of finding a cure.

“This event allows a unique group of people to give back to something they really care about while having fun and cutting loose a little bit,” said Nancy Copper, a cancer survivor and board member for Glory, Hope and Life.

Copper was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s disease in 1991 and given just one year to live. Almost 25 years later, she is a mother of two and a survivor who knows the importance of the little black dress and the annual event.

“It’s part of what makes this event so fun and unique,” Copper said. “Everyone is at their absolute best. Girls dress up for girls and no one is trying to impress anyone; they all just feel good about themselves.”

She participated in the Belk fashion show at this year’s event, wearing a flowing floral Adrianna Papell maxi dress she said she “may never take off.”

Copper mentioned the power fashion has to boost a woman’s confidence, especially if she is suffering through chemotherapy or other treatments.

“I love dressing up,” she said. “Anything pink really gives me confidence, but sometimes there’s nothing better than a good pair of jeans and a white linen shirt or a little black dress.”

Creating confidence, hosting a girls night out and raising money for a friend in need were Robyn Hummer’s goals when she started the event six years ago. Each year, the party has a different theme, such as “Viva Las Vegas” this year, but the little black dresses remain the staple.

“Originally, we were looking for a way to raise money for one of the nurses at work,” Hummer said. “I was thinking of fundraisers and it just came to me as a great girls’ night out. The theme is different every year except it’s always the little black dress party.”

For the past four years, the event has benefitted Glory, Hope and Life after one of the original attendees was approached by a board member from the organization.

The event, which is for ladies only, gives out little black dress awards for style and overall awards to survivors at the event.

“We award ‘Miss Little Black Dress’ to a cancer survivor along with three other awards,” Hummer said. “We have our 50 glamour girls every year. And local doctors and well-known men are the judges.”

Hummer emphasized the little black dress, or LBD, is an empowering outfit for most women, including cancer survivors, women with disabilities or other illnesses.

“It brings women together,” Hummer said. “It’s a time where we can get all dressed up and be confident and spend time with other women. Everyone is in a little black dress for the night.”

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