More than a nip-slip


A model wears a sheer grey sweater with a grey skirt during the showing of the 1998 John Bartlett fall and winter collection during fashion week in Milan, Italy. (This photo may contain offensive content for some readers)

Ellen Freeborn

A daring new trend has been bouncing around on the runways at every recent fashion week. Most memorable was London’s Spring/Summer 2015 Fashion Week, which took place last fall, where some of the world’s most prestigious designers sent their models walking bare-chested down the runway.

Unless you think these fashion designers are attempting to eliminate the clothing medium altogether, here are a few examples of how exposed chests can be accomplished carefully and tastefully.

Tom Ford opened his Spring/Summer 2015 show with his models wearing completely sheer tops and a medium-sized bandeau piece covering the chest. As the show continued, his models became slightly more exposed, and the strategically placed strips of fabric became smaller and smaller, until his models were wearing sheer tops with only what appeared to be pasties covering the nipples.

Burberry Prorsum’s models were also clothed in all-sheer chiffons, only subtly covering the nipples with gathered fabric, faint stripes or small jackets.

Style Houses like Erdem and Christopher Kane avoided the subtlety and instead sent a few models wearing nearly translucent materials and completely exposed chests down the London runway.

In fact, most designers’ Spring/Summer 2015 collections contained a few sheer tops, modeled bra-less on the catwalk.

While this runway trend doesn’t create much of a shock factor to audiences, we can’t help but wonder if this will eventually lead to exposed nipples in everyday encounters. Should we prepare to shield our eyes for fear of being “flashed,” or will this become widely accepted as a cultural norm?

Perhaps this trend is slowly trickling down via the popular 1990s-inspired boyish shape, which has been in motion for some time now. Emphasizing large chests and voluptuous curves is no longer seen as the fashion ideal. Instead, women are wearing dainty bralettes and loose tops, which work really well on girls with zero body fat, and help create the illusion of stick-like statures for the rest of us. It’s not quite full-exposure status, but it’s certainly freeing.

Rick Owens explored the polarity of this phenomenon in his Spring/Summer 2015 menswear show. Owens, in his typical fashion, sent his male models wearing loose dresses and elongated tunics down the runway, but this time, he went for an even larger shock factor with cutouts around exposed phalli. This was not nearly as well-received as the aforementioned trend and is doubtful to be viewed as anything more than an artistic statement and an attempt to earn some headlines.

While sheer tops and bare chests are popular and tasteful on the runway, I can’t imagine this trend really reaching mass fashion for quite some time.

No shoes, no shirts, no service probably applies to invisible shirts, as well. At least for now. 

Contact Ellen Freeborn at [email protected].