No musician harnesses the power of an image relatively like Beyoncé, so when she demurred off her Renaissance world stint this week, the costumes were as largely anticipated as the set- list. From a futuristic rounded Alexander McQueen catsuit and a black and unheroic banded Thierry Mugler" Queen Bee" look, complete with matching antennae, to a colour- changing gown by Japanese marker Anrealage, they were as striking as anticipated. But one really stood out – a custom- made Loewe chased bodysuit with strategically placed trompe- l’oeil hands that created the optic vision of someone hugging – or guarding the modesty of – Beyoncé's bare body.
It is not the first time the songster has embraced the" naked" look. On the cover for last time's Renaissance reader, she sat on a holographic steed in nothing but a many pieces of chrome scavenged by artist Nusi Quero. For the Oscars party she hosted with hubby Jay- Z in 2022, she wore a nearly raw – save for a many precisely deposited embellishments – Celia Kritharioti couture gown. In 2015, she wore a scene- stealing chased naked Givenchy gown to the Met Gala. Beyoncé pushing boundaries, and slipping clothes – or appearing to – on stage is nothing new, but the response to her catsuit shows that bareness, or indeed the suggestion of it, still has the power to snare attention.
Take Janelle Monáe who, a many weeks after wearing a structured sheer dress over a sparkly bikini to the Met Gala, went indeed further by going fully topless in the videotape for her new single Lipstick nut – instantly transferring the internet into meltdown.
Going naked as part of a performance is one thing, but the quantum of meat on show on the red carpet has been trending overhead for a while now, too. At this time's Oscars, the look ran the crucible from romantic lattice and blinged- up bobbinet to strategically placed PVC and leather, while at the Met Gala afterparties, Kendall Jenner, Gigi Hadid, Olivia Wilde and Emily Ratajkowski contended for the most risqué look in a selection of sheer slips, see- through bodices and undergarments- as- outerwear. At Paris Fashion week, Florence Pugh put her own twist on the look, wearing a sheer Valentino maxi- skirt over a thong, paired with a casual sweatshirt.
For decades, showing some meat has been a surefire way to get your outfit – and you – talked about. But is it always as introductory as that, or is there commodity more at play? Especially when artists like Beyoncé, who do not need to resort to shock tactics to get attention, are each by on naked dressing, too.
The term" naked dress" first entered the wordbook in the 1930s, explains fashion annalist Kimberly Chrisman- Campbell, who has a chapter devoted to the naked dress in her most recent book, Skirts Fashioning Modern Feminity in the 20th Century." In the 1930s, the term was used to describe a strapless dress, because they looked so bare to people also," she tells BBC Culture.
By the middle of the century, roadhouse players and actresses were pushing the boundaries further, with Marlene Dietrich wearing enterprising stage costumes that gave an print of bareness. also, in 1962, the naked dress went mainstream when Marilyn Monroe wore a gemstone crusted, meat- coloured dress that clung tightly to her body to sing Happy Birthday to President Kennedy." That’s perhaps what we'd suppose of as a naked dress now but it was not called that also, it was called an' vision dress', because it gave the vision of bareness," says Chrisman- Campbell.
It showed the power of such a dress to snare attention, and other stars followed suit." People like Dietrich and Marilyn Monroe, they were really trying to capture the limelight and the dresses were designed so that when they were in the factual limelight, the fabric would sort of evaporate and it was like they were just wearing sequins or lace or embroidery, indeed though that was not the case. It was a great way of saying' look at me', because people really had to look hard to figure out what was going on with that dress."
Bob Mackie, the youthful developer who first sketched out the idea for Marilyn's dress, latterly started working with Cher. In 1974, she wore a feathered see- through dress by Mackie to the Met." It caused a lot of howl." Mackie said. But it did not discourage Cher, who continued to wear body- unbosoming outfits to high- profile events like the Oscars throughout the 1980s.
occasionally, a celebrity denies any previous knowledge that their dress was" naked". Jane Birkin told Vogue she had no idea the see- through sweater dress she wore to the 1969 premiere of Slogan was so transparent. Likewise Kate Moss – whose sheer slip worn to a model agency party in 1993 remains one of the most iconic and influential exemplifications of the naked dress – blames the shooter's lightbulbs, averring she had no idea it was that revealing.
Over the times," naked dress" has been kindly of a catch- all term for an outfit that associates itself with bareness – whether through clever vision, by using sheer fabric, or by a lack of material altogether, similar as Jennifer Lopez's slashed- to- the- nexus Versace gown at the 2000 Grammys, which caused such a delirium it inadvertently led to the creation of Google Images. moment, Chrisman- Campbell says the term is most generally used to describe commodity with" sheer, skin- coloured fabrics, perhaps some lace or sequins, anything where you really have to look doubly to see if the person is showing any body corridor."
Despite it being nothing we have not formerly seen ahead, flashing some – or rather, a lot of – meat on the red carpet remains a important way to command attention. Rihanna is not short on dramatic fashion moments, but the bottom- unbosoming, nipple- revealing bobbinet gown – carpeted in further than 200,000 Swarovski chargers – she wore to accept her Fashion Icon award at the 2014 CFDA fete remains her most enterprising, and presumably her most deconstructed. "It's still a great way to get full eyeballs and be photographed," says Chrisman-Campbell. "But it can be much more than that, too."