First they came for our skirts. Now they’re coming for our bras.
If you thought the current trend of wearing nothing but panties, inspired by Miu Miu’s 2023 collection, was a challenge, you might want to look away from this week’s Paris catwalks.
Showing her debut collection for Chloe yesterday, designer Chemena Kamali revealed more than just a new direction for the house: she also revealed plenty of the models’ breasts, in diaphanous dresses of black lace, white guipure and dove gray chiffon. There was a feeling of the ’70s, a decade when bras were considered superfluous.
However, Chloe’s autumn/winter 2024 show was relatively chaste compared to Saint Laurent’s catwalk on Tuesday. Yes, Saint Laurent’s designs were beautiful. But they were also very transparent.
A model walks the runway in a sheer, ruffled, midriff-slit dress during designer Chemena Kamali’s debut collection for Chloe.
Much of the Chloe collection left the models’ breasts exposed, like in this white lace design.
No surprises there: the trend has been gaining momentum, especially during awards season, and many celebrities prefer chiffon dresses.
But this wasn’t just anything. It was extremely sheer: a selection of sheer bustiers, blouses and halter necks, all worn without a bra. Pure terror, so to speak, at least for most women. As an exercise in craftsmanship, Saint Laurent’s collection was successful. As an exercise in body diversity, it wasn’t so much.
Despite the fashion industry’s promise to be more inclusive, there has been little evidence of real change this Paris Fashion Week.
Paris has always been the city most committed to the ideal of the ultra-thin model. According to curve model Felicity Hayward, whose ‘Including the Curve’ initiative tracks size inclusivity in the four major fashion capitals – New York, London, Milan and Paris – Paris comes in last place, with only 28 size models greats parading for the last time on the catwalk. season, from an estimated 4,000 looks shown.
Judging by the collections presented so far, this season the number seems to be even lower.
At the Chloe and Saint Laurent shows, as well as at the Swedish brand Acne Studios, the models not only had to be slim as a rod: they also had to pass the pencil test, that measure of the size of a woman’s breasts. a schoolgirl most of the time. We haven’t thought since we were 13.
Some may argue that you can wear the sheer look at any age, with one condition: that your breasts are no larger than an A cup. Or perhaps, in a pinch, a pert little B. Which is a low blow to body diversity. A cynic might even argue that was the point. The average cup size in the UK is 36D.
As impertinent as it may seem to talk about the size of a woman’s breasts, when the breast in question is on display, it is human to make assumptions.
Designer Anthony Vaccarello’s Saint Laurent collection followed a similar theme, as many models wore darker sheer suits.
A model at the Chloe show wore a gold belt over her sheer white dress with thigh-high black leather boots.
And the bra fitters at Marks & Spencer would surely have been able to assess in an instant the cup size of front-row guest, actress and director Olivia Wilde, 39, who looked striking in a sheer black bodysuit and black pencil . skirt. Georgia May Jagger, 32, also embraced the nude trend in a sheer black halterneck with vertical stripes.
Any VIP guests over 40, however, were less daring. Actress Monica Bellucci, 59, wore a jumpsuit, while supermodels Kate Moss, 50, and Linda Evangelista, 58, kept their coats on.
But on the catwalk there was no such modesty. The coats, when they appeared, were for the most part slung casually over one arm, the better to show off the transparent clothing.
According to Anthony Vaccarello, the Belgian-Italian designer who has helmed Saint Laurent since 2016, the form-fitting clothing was supposed to resemble see-through underwear, “while revealing and enveloping the woman wearing it, like X-rays.” hypergraphics”.
Vaccarello had made life even more difficult for himself (and his workshops) by choosing to work with the same transparent fabric used for stockings.
As anyone who has ever climbed a pair within seconds of wearing them will attest, this is not a durable material. Speaking backstage after the show, the designer admitted that it would be difficult to mass produce such delicate garments.
Of the 48 looks shown, so many were so transparent that by the end of the show, the nudity had almost lost its shock value. But maybe that was the point. On the red carpet, the body positivity movement has seen a slew of celebrities in their 20s, including Florence Pugh, Dua Lipa, Zendaya and Kendall Jenner, embrace the braless trend, whether wearing sheer tops or backless dresses.
For some, not wearing a bra is more of a political statement than a fashion statement. “Keeping women in line by making comments about their bodies has worked for a long time,” Pugh said, in response to the backlash she received for exposing her breasts in a Valentino dress last summer. “We are so terrified of the human body that we can’t even look at my two pretty nipples behind the fabric in a non-sexual way.”
But it’s not always a bold statement of freedom. For some, not wearing a bra is just another way to get noticed. And in the age of social media, the goal is to get noticed.
As far as attention-getting ploys go, it’s nothing new. In 1966, Yves Saint Laurent shocked society by putting a see-through blouse on the catwalk and saying, “nothing is more beautiful than a naked body.”
Some of us might disagree. For anyone whose cup size is too much, whose confidence is low, or who doesn’t have a driver to take them home safely at the end of a night out (the knocks are different on the number 73 bus), there’s only one option. : Ruin the look by wearing a bra.
Or, of course, avoid it altogether. After all, before you can say “pass the nipple tape,” opaque clothing will undoubtedly be back in style.