The 2021 spring-summer collections from designers around the world have been unmistakably nostalgic of the 1980s and 1990s. From the return of the micro mini-skirt and bright and bold florals, to the midriff floss, which is being projected as the breakout trend of the year, this year has been about reminiscing and recontextualizing trends of the bygone years.
It also proves the 20-year-rule true that says trends run on a cycle, and return every two decades. “The 90s was supposedly known as the bad era of fashion, but the elements and pieces associated with it remain iconic and statement. Also, 90s fashion being super comfortable has been something that cannot be ignored at the start of this year,” says fashion stylist-consultant Khyati Busa.
The midriff floss, for instance, started as a micro trend and an Instagram rage among influencers but has now seen an unprecedented favour in the spring-summer 2021 runways of Charlotte Knowles, Supriya Lele, Jacquemus, Versace, Christopher Esber and Victoria Beckham. “It is something that I think will seep in as the world opens. I do see people wearing the trend to events and even casually,” says celebrity stylist Ayesha Amin Nigam.
The midriff floss trend gets its name from the crisscross strands running across the midriff that resemble the dental floss. It can arise from crop tops, skirts, bikinis, trousers and cut-out maxi dresses in gentle, easy silhouettes. The style is reminiscent of the risqué 1990s and early 2000 when the visible thong was reigning supreme via Destiny’s Child Y2K period, Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera and Paris Hilton. Cut to 2020, British Vogue’s December 2020 cover had Queen Bey in a low-back, red Christopher John Rogers gown with a crystal-encrusted Agent Provocateur G-string on display. Even supermodels Bella Hadid, Hailey Bieber, Emily Rajatowski and Kim Kardashian have been spotted following this trend. “Despite being a bit of a risqué trend, it still is the most wearable version of what we saw in the 90s. It may be strings that would attach to both the top and bottom of the outfit or just one side or just the top or just the bottom. It is likely to be seen a lot more this spring-summer,” predicts Busa.
Fashion influencer Komal Pandey finds its "very liberating. I think Indian women invented the midriff exposé while tying sarees. It’s, of course, a more ‘out there’ version and I’m totally here for it. I’ve been midriff flossing since lockdown and I haven’t looked back. Nobody does flossing like Jacquemus. The midriff floss works the best with dhoti/draped skirts. The silhouettes carve every body type in a verysexy and understated manner."
Given that the trend is an exception to the steady rise of nap dresses, work-from-home outfits, and loungewear during the pandemic, the ubiquity of the midriff floss is surprising. But given its rage, both on and off the runway, resistance seems futile.