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The latest runway trend: nude look

Whether in tulle, organza, fishnet or chiffon, designers offered several versions of the sheer look

From the Saint Laurent Fall/Winter 2024-2025 ready-to-wear collection presented on 27 February
From the Saint Laurent Fall/Winter 2024-2025 ready-to-wear collection presented on 27 February (Vianney Le Caer/Invision/AP)

The trend for see-through clothes has dominated Paris Fashion Week which ends 5 March, showing that demand for revealing outfits is still going strong despite practical and even legal challenges.

From pop star Dua Lipa's undie-showing dress at the Barbie premiere to Rihanna on the front row in a netted babydoll dress, the nude look was omnipresent on red carpets last year.

Whether in tulle, organza, fishnet or chiffon, there was no sign of the trend dying down on Paris catwalks, with everyone from Chloe and Courreges to Givenchy and Weinsanto offering versions of the style.

Also read: Paris Fashion Week: Stella McCartney talks about sustainability with glamour

Fashion data specialists TagWalk say the number of sheer outfits increased 40% across the 20 biggest brands between 2023 and 2024.

None went as far as Saint Laurent, whose creative director Anthony Vaccarello made sheer the dominant theme of his latest autumn/winter collection last week.

It was impeccably timed to coincide with an exhibition entitled "Sheer: The Diaphanous Creations of Yves Saint Laurent" at his namesake museum in Paris, tracing it back to his first see-through look in 1966 and his emblematic transparent chiffon dress two years later.

Puritanical Americans were scandalised then, and they remain so today, albeit with a more socio-political rationale.

"Breasts, Breasts, Everywhere," wrote a shocked New York Times last week, bemoaning the fact that only 12 of the 48 looks at the Saint Laurent show could be published in "this family newspaper".

"At this stage in the 21st century that much transparency seems like the tritest form of misogynistic pretend-fashion provocation," wrote its fashion correspondent Vanessa Friedman. "(Women) are already being treated like objects, do we really need more objectification?"

Transparent looks have always drawn plenty of attention, of course.

Jennifer Lopez's appearance in a sheer green Versace dress at the 2000 Grammy Awards triggered so much internet traffic that it helped prompt the creation of Google Images a year later.

Some see it as an extension of the "body positive" movement, in which women can proudly flaunt their physiques.

Saint Laurent biographer Laurence Benaim dismissed criticisms of the iconic designer, saying he "elevated transparency into art".

"It was not a question of baring the body, but of suggesting its presence through a fabric as sensual as it was intangible.

"Transparency meant freedom," said Benaim.

Too much exposure can mean the end of freedom, however.

Even in supposedly liberal France, the crime of "sexual exhibition" still carries the threat of one year in prison and a 15,000-euro fine.

"There is a difference between a fashion show in a private space where the audience knows what to expect, and the idea of wearing these outfits in public," said French criminal lawyer Avi Bitton.

So how can you wear this trend without ending up in prison?

"It depends on your daily life, but even the visible panties option, for most people, is not an option," said Cosmopolitan magazine stylist Clemence Guillerm.

Instead she suggested wearing a short lining or skirt under a sheer knee-length or midi skirt for the same effect.

For the top, Guillerm urged "those who aren't so daring yet" to put a blazer over an opaque or flesh-coloured bodysuit.

Also read: Paris Fashion Week: Balenciaga offers styles made from repurposed clothes


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