As the fashion elite gathered at the Anna Wintour Costume Center at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on Monday night for their equivalent of Cinderella’s ball, all eyes turned to Beyoncé.
Queen B stepped out on the red carpet in front of her legions of adoring fans (well, ok, the shutter-happy paps and photogs) in an ensemble that left little to the imagination—and was absolutely stunning.
Her sheer and multi-colored crystal Givenchy dress took the shape of a ball gown, but was completely see-through other than a strategically-placed pattern of bling. It was both one of the most incredible looks of the evening and one of the least…there.
Celebrities have a history of pushing the boundaries when it comes to their sartorial selections, but this often means plunging necklines and dangerously high slits.
More recently, a growing number of A-listers are choosing to join the tribe of nearly-nudes, just a diamond or two away from wearing nothing at all.
But the most shocking development: they’re managing to look rather elegant and red carpet-appropriate while doing so.
Early in the aughts, the most provocative outfits were often relegated to music video costumes.
In Britney Spears’s 2003 video for “Toxic,” a white string bikini was all that covered her under a sheer diamond bodysuit. Rihanna gave up clothes entirely in the video for “Umbrella” in 2007, wearing nothing more than silver body paint and some very well-choreographed dance moves.
Once stars started stepping out in next-to-nothing “formalwear”, their appearances tended to be more naked (pun absolutely intended) ploys for headline grabbing attention by B-list celebrities than truly fashionable statement.
There was nothing stylish about Rose McGowan’s attempt to turn a G-string and what looked like half of an old bathing suit cover-up into something even remotely appropriate for the red carpet at the 1998 MTV Video Music Awards.
All the while, the more mainstream risqué choice has been to step out sans top, but with bottoms fully covered. Think of it as the mullet of ballgowns—party on the top, business on the bottom. While this look always causes titters from gawking fans and a flurry of Twitter clicks, it’s not all that outrageous these days.
It often seems that every celebrity is an Instagram-taunting member of the Free the Nipple movement, and it’s no longer all that provocative. Rihanna is frequently seen flaunting her impressive pair in styles that she manages to make more sexy than porn star.
And good for her. We’ve reached a moment where women are regaining control of their bodies and their right to display them however they want. It goes beyond the fight to have the same right to go topless as men.
It’s both an invitation to look and a statement that looking is not permission to objectify. When done right, it is not a tacky, tasteless costume but a bold choice to elegantly expose a body that is sexy and worthy of pride, in whatever form that takes. Not that it always goes right…
This trend began with artfully placed cut-outs (a look that remains quite popular according to other ensembles at the Met Gala) that grew bigger and bigger, morphing into full panels of sheer over the past awards season runways.
But one glance at the Met Gala red carpet shows some stars have moved on to an even more provocative style: “Goodbye cut-outs, hello cut-everythings!” There is a special place reserved for the women brave and confident enough to bare it all—and we do mean brave. Forget the cameras, can you imagine the dangers posed by walking around in a nearly-nude all night?
So, for your next formal occasion, think like Beyoncé. Bedazzle your birthday suit in diamonds and get ready for your close-up as a proud new member of the nearly-nudes.
Queen B is undeniably fierce, but she took it to a whole new level at the “China: Through the Looking Glass” launch party on Monday night. The Twitterverse went crazy over this showstopper. A masterpiece by Givenchy, the gown lives up to that moniker even though it’s barely there. The multi-colored crystals are both elegant in their design and provide a very (very) small level of coverage in their strategic placement. All hail Queen B…we just don’t envy her worrying about even more exposure while dancing and socializing all night.
Once again following in Beyoncé’s footsteps (no really—many have noted her dress’s similarity to Bey’s 2012 Met Gala look), Kim also wore a sheer, blinged out, and feathered ensemble that showed off her curves in all their glory. Wearing Peter Dundas’s first dress for Roberto Cavalli, the reality-star looked elegant, even though the intricate beadwork allowed generous peeks of her not-so-protected assets. She exuded confidence and strength in the exposure, even posing with hubby Kanye West on the red-carpeted stairs as if they were royalty. Let’s face it: at this point, they kind of are.
While undeniably risqué, Lopez stopped short of taking her sheer look to the same level as her two Met friends in crime. Lopez stunned on the red carpet in a sheer gown by Donatella Versace that was emblazoned with an embroidered red dragon curling up the front. It was a bold choice for the actress/singer, who rolled up in tandem with the creative genius behind her look, Donatella Versace herself.
In case there were any doubts about the friendship of bootylicious babes on Monday night, Kim tweeted a backside view of her and her “idol” J.Lo.
Model Irina Shayk isn’t afraid of partying sans full coverage. For the Vanity Fair Oscar’s after party this year, she donned a completely see-through jumper with an artfully one-sided black panel that provided only the minimal amount of strategic coverage.
She wasn’t the only one to dress for the party with the motto “less is more,” but she did take it to a whole other level.
Maybe it was the Sports Illustrated-cover star’s attempt to make ex-boyfriend Cristiano Ronaldo jealous? Either way, you go girl.
Paris Hilton has not exactly been known for her good taste over the years. So when it comes to going sheer, things could get a little dicey. While her incredibly revealing silver sequined gown by designer Charnel Zoe gives ample evidence of what lies beneath, it’s not the worst we’ve seen her in. There’s a bit of a super-hero vibe going on and the sparkles may be a little too intricately worked, but we’ve seen her wear a lot more (ok, it’s all relative when it comes to Paris), and look a lot less elegant.
Queen B may be stealing the thunder at this year’s Met Gala (although Rihanna’s bright yellow, fully clothed look was a showstopper as well), but let’s not forget who shocked and delighted us in next-to-nothing-with-a-little-sparkle first.
Rihanna lit up the red carpet at the 2014 CFDA Awards, confidently posing in a completely see-through, glittering masterpieces. As if concerned about exposure, she teasingly clutched a dainty pink shawl around her shoulders. RiRi is a known lover of letting it all hang out—and egging Instagram on in the process—so here’s to more scandalously fabulous red carpet appearances.
When trying to make a name for yourself, show up to the Golden Globes in next to nothing. That will get people talking! From the front, British socialite Lady Victoria Harvey’s gown by designer Guarav Gupta is…interesting. Slashes of glittering black just barely reach across her body. But from the side—holy, Queen Mother. This lady is setting a whole new standard for noble exposure.
No slips for Charlie XCX (although we can’t speak for any lunch-time slip-ups). Her flowing, long lace gown is daintily pretty, with just a hint of a Little House on the Prairie vibe…except I don’t think Laura or Mary would have been allowed out of the house in this get-up.
The singer somehow manages to be beautiful and a bit demure while also leaving very little to the imagination. Break the Rules, indeed.
This California girl has always had fun on the red carpet, and her 2010 ensemble was no different. Here, Perry proves she was doing the whole sheer-and-diamond thing well before the Met ladies wow’d us. Granted, her clusters of crystals seem to be a lot more robust than the latest crop of nearly nudes, and the look comes off as more playful than elegant with her addition of luscious blue locks.
Braxton may have been ahead of her time in her 2001 nearly-nude look, but this “gown” looks like her train kidnapped the rest of her dress. Toni, if you’re going to bare it all, the trick is the artful reveal.
Sheer allows you to look like you put some thought into arriving naked, rather than accidentally forgot part of your dress. And you must have something glittery—diamonds, crystals—anything that says, “I can afford a full, elegant gown for this occasion. I’m just choosing to only wear my bling.”
Once again, a red-carpet look leaves us speechless—but this time, it’s not a good thing. There was nothing coy about Rose McGowan’s…dress? bathing suit?…I don’t even know what to call her 1998 Video Music Awards get-up.
A lacy g-string was just about all that separated McGowan from the horde of photographers as she walked the red carpet in a look that resembled a dry cleaning run gone bad. Oh, how far the nearly nude club has come.
Cher has always been a trailblazer, especially when it comes to fashion. Sequins, bare skin, outrageous headdresses—Cher pioneered them all. In 1974, the singer attended the Met Gala on the arm of Bob Mackie wearing this beaded nude look accented with flowing white feathers.
Think it looks a little familiar? Kim Kardashian West Instagrammed a photo of Cher from that evening before her own appearance at the 2015 Met Gala, calling it her “inspiration for my dress tonight.” Oh, if only we could live in a world where we all dressed like Cher.