When a gown that isn't really a gown appears on the venerable Lupita Nyong'o at the Met Ball, and Jennifer Lawrence's couture-of-choice looks more like a bodysuit paired with a swimsuit cover-up, it may be time to acknowledge and accept that sheer dressing is officially a trend. Sheer gowns are hardly unheard of, being the risqué choice for any starlet who wants to make a splash on the red carpet, but when Hollywood's acclaimed actresses begin adopting the style in droves, it drives the transparent dress into trend territory.
The Spring 2014 Fashion Week runways predicted the trend, with designers sending out models in varying states of undress thanks to sheer paneling or completely transparent ensembles. Burberry's runway included patterned, candy-colored skirts and blouses which on closer inspection were anything but opaque, and Band of Outsiders presented a collection with everything from gossamer pants to transparent maxi dresses. Any fashionista worth her salt was anticipating a season of stunningly sheer ensembles.
Though it is impossible to pinpoint when the sheer dress craze began to win the hearts of celebrities, it seems as though Jennifer Lawrence's transparent Dior Haute Couture gown for the Hunger Games: Catching Fire premiere in November 2013 ignited interest in the trend. Certainly, some critics balked at the bold look — or at the very least found it shocking — but nevertheless, the see-through style began to gain momentum. In the same month, Thor actress Jamie Alexander appeared at the film's premiere in a revealing cut-out Spring 2014 Azzaro gown that left little to the imagination.
However, there is a significant difference between gowns which display strategic hints of skin via graphic cutouts, and those which display the entire body underneath a thin veil of gauzy fabric, and the fashionable thing to do on the red carpet for 2014 is the latter. The world waited with bated breath for Lupita Nyong'o to grace the red carpet at the Met Gala in whatever royalty-inspired designer confection she had chosen for the occasion, and needless to say, viewers were puzzled when she arrived in a bedazzled, feathered, fishnet of a Prada gown with a thin slip underneath.
Nyong'o's gown may have been daring, but it did conceal any truly scandalous facets of the actress's physique, a lesson which model Chrissy Teigen unfortunately failed to learn from. Teigen skin-baring ensemble came shortly after the Met Gala, and with significantly less material. The model appeared at the Gordon Parks Foundation gala in a Vera Wang-designed tuft of fabric, which not only showcased the dress's lack of lining, but also placed on prominent display her bare chest.
And thus, I arrive at Rihanna's notorious CFDA awards gown, which in true RiRi spirit, was completely, utterly transparent. Only a petal pink stole and some nude panties concealed strategic parts of Rihanna's body, though by the end of the night, the accessory had been abandoned. If every woman in the world possessed a physique like Rihanna's, perhaps we would all be prancing about in what Carrie Bradshaw would call "naked dresses". And far be it for any one person to call out the star for wearing what by many accounts is a beautiful gown. However, it does beg the question: How sheer is too sheer? And if the fashion world is to embrace the fully sheer trend and continue to loose more layers, will celebrities start to simply abandon clothes completely?
Though the likelihood of a sudden nudism trend in Hollywood is highly unlikely, there is only so far fashion boundaries can be pushed before someone begins to push back. Rihanna's own perfume ad was pulled from locations in Britain because of its provocative (and au naturel) content, which indicates that some audiences are simply not comfortable with fashion's current, explicit inclinations. Perhaps chaste clothing is the next fashion frontier.