You are not imagining things: there’s a lot more celebrity skin on display these days.
Like actress Maggie Q (above), who forgot a few essentials at the premiere for Divergent the other night, not the least being her modesty.
Pantyless (and possibly braless too) in a revealing Anthony Vaccarello mini-dress, she’s just the latest in a long list of female celebs who are leaving their drawers at home in the drawer when the red carpets and klieg lights beckon.
Stars around the world are embracing the no-underwear trend, making public appearances in revealing ensembles that require lots of strategic garment tape and leave nothing to the imagination.
And they’re not always comfortable doing so. Thor actress Jaimie Alexander was grilled about her infamous cutout dress on The Tonight Show, telling Jay Leno she had to walk “very carefully” at the movie premierie, “flexing every muscle that I don’t have so that nothing would move out of place.”
And sexiest-woman-alive™ Gwyneth Paltrow was “humiliated” by the response to her side-less Antonio Berardi gown at the Iron Man 3 premiere, telling Ellen DeGeneres that the dress’s side panels proved much more revealing under the TV lights than in the dressing room. The experience, she said, was “a disaster”.
So why are stars doing this — courting controversy, inviting mockery and risking a colossal wardrobe malfunction by skipping their skivvies?
It’s not the same thing as “going commando” — anyone can go without undies for a day without letting the world know — and it’s light years beyond the whole lingerie-as-outerwear thing, which suddenly sounds so very 2012.
It might also be the lingerie industry’s worst nightmare. What if, after all, skin is sexier than all that fine lace and satin and expensive embroidery? If lingerie models like Behati Prinsloo and Anja Rubik (below) are going au naturel in public, what hope is there for the industry?
Well, don’t panic yet; this will probably turn out be one of those fashion trends that don’t travel well from the red carpet to the real world, like drop-crotch rapper pants.
Last fall, W magazine took great pains to analyze the no-underwear trend, suggesting it was a throwback to the free-wheeling, braless 1960s and a rejection of the confining structures of foundation garments. Fed up with visible panty lines, bulging bra bands and strangling shapewear, women were rediscovering the unequaled pleasure of a fresh breeze under their skirts.
But there was also a kind of if-you’ve-got-it-flaunt-it cockiness behind the trend, the magazine reported.
“Certain people don’t wear underwear to prove that they don’t have to,” stylist Kate Young said in the article. “The message is ‘Look, my body’s so incredibly good, I don’t need any help.’ I would say it’s a fuck-you move.”
As with most trends, there have been some obvious standard bearers blazing the trail. Gwyneth made headlines with her butt-and-boob revealing gown last year, and Anne Hathaway stole the 2013 Oscars with that speech and those protruding nipples (and wasn’t seen in public for months afterward).
Last month, Rihanna added fuel to the debate by admitting to Vogue she has a love-hate relationship with lingerie and often prefers to leave out the underpinnings altogether.
For many celebs, public exposure isn’t just a bad pun, it’s their bread and butter. Any many likely feel pushed to experiment with peekaboo fashions in order to keep the cameras clicking and the fans watching.
Given the utterly fearless styles worn by Miley, Gaga, Nikki and a few other performers, it’s easy to see how other more worldly stars might feel left behind. Nowadays, a glimpse of a butt cheek or a flash of sideboob just doesn’t cut it anymore, and professional attention-seekers are changing their game to adapt to this new reality. Many crave the kind of momentary wardrobe mishap that made Janet Jackson the queen of all media 10 years ago.
Womenswear designers are also doing their part, creating extreme looks that test the courage and confidence of even the most unabashed stars. Sheer panels and revealing lace latticework are suddenly everywhere in designer collections, and some designers are creating silhouettes rarely seen before.
Louis Azzaro‘s spring line includes some astonishing cutouts (that’s what Jaimie Alexander wore to the Thor premiere), while Indian designer Gaurav Gupta, usually known for his couture saris, created the very Western graphic half-dress worn by socialite Lady Victoria Harvey to the Golden Globes this year. And Vaccarello’s punkish take on the little black dress is already showing up in fashion editorials everywhere, and may become the year’s most photographed fashion piece.
The root of this trend, though, can be found in the dualistic nature of celebrity itself. Most stars find themselves alternating between their extroverted, exhibitionist selves that the public knows and the more modest, introverted side that places a higher value on personal boundaries.
In our post-Kardashian world, more celebrities are willing to change that balance and blur those boundaries, often to their own lasting regret.
As for the $30-billion lingerie industry, there’s nothing to worry about. People will keep on buying knickers and wearing them privately. And no one needs to know otherwise.