“They’re supposed to be fashion icons and they’re not wearing anything” Carolina Herrera
Without wishing to sound like a starchy mum – scrap that, I am a mum now, I’ve earned the right – the red carpet naked dress is a 21st century fashion low. This summer the revered designer, 76-year-old Carolina Herrera declared war on the trend, stating: “The almost-naked! Oh God! They’re trying to get people to pay attention to them. In life, there should be a little mystery.” And I, not quite 76, wholeheartedly agree.
But this isn’t about prudishness. Nor, dear reader, is it about body envy: lord knows, if I were to lock myself away for a good month with my trusty Claudia Schiffer Perfectly Fit DVD I could totally pull off Queen Bey’s sheer embellished Givenchy number, too. However, it would leave me squirming like a salted slug because that’s exactly how I’d react if I were to find myself practically naked in front of a baying press pit – toned glutes or no. Of course, celebrities don’t play by our rules, and they do like to shock us modest mortals – reports of a birthday-suited Miley Cyrus walking around backstage at the recent MTV VMAs takes the naked dress to its nth degree. It’s like The Emperor’s New Clothes, only in reverse: But can’t you see? It’s fashion!
Yes, there’s aesthetics – always a murky and subjective matter – but beyond that there’s a sinister sub-text to the one-upmanship of wearing barely-there garbs that simply says LOOK AT MY BODY, taking it away from fashion, from style, from culture, from art, and whichever way I look at it, like Herrera, that sits uneasy with me because ultimately, sex without culture is just nasty.
The cattle market-ness of it all – especially in the highly charged arena of the red carpet – throws up a number of feminist arguments, from the objectification of women’s bodies (that old chestnut), through to the case for ‘why not?’ Isn’t it a feminist statement in itself to be so body confident as to bear all? But for that matter why don’t we see Bradley Cooper in nothing but skimpy Speedos at his next big premier? (In fact why don’t we?). That I know more about Rihanna’s arse than I do her music makes me a little bit sad. I’m hoping the naked dress has had its day, for fashion’s sake more than anything. Miley Cyrus and Kim Kan’t-even-bring-myself-to-write-it have already given us full-frontal. The only way now, surely, is clothed.