The skin-flashing set has captivated stylists everywhere, but it only accentuates the fashion industry’s inherent thinness fetish
Miuccia Prada ate with that set … but at what cost
Every once in a while, a brand’s product line holds literally every stylist captive. From the cult of House of Sunny, Paloma Wool, and other avant basic trends, to high-fashion, it-items like the Bottega padded cassette bag. Or, do you remember that week when everyone was wearing The Row. Sometimes everyone is on the same page. Each time, it reflects something about the state of the industry.
Currently, the thing everyone wants is a barely-there, cropped set from Miuccia Prada’s Miu Miu brand.
Everyone’s wearing it. Nicole Kidman on the cover of Vanity Fair, Zendaya in Interview Magazine, plus countless models and fashion darlings during fashion week and beyond. It’s inescapable. It’s iconic. But what it says about fashion? Insidious.
Paloma Elsesser is one of the most recent fashion models to be spotted in the two-piece, but one of the first non-skinny people to don the daring number.
In a recent interview in i-D, Elsesser talks about being a plus-size Black model, often flaunted around by the media. Although the article captures the moment, the fashion landscape, and the fact that despite the current parade of body positivity buzzwords nothing has changed.
Elsesser’s astute observation about NYFW February 2022 and the current trendscape asserts: “Sex – or at least a voyeuristic notion of sexiness – came back to fashion in full force, not seen so brazen since the hedonistic, champagne-soaked days of a previous era. It was only inevitable, given the preceding months of cabin fever – and years of culturally-enforced puritanism. Often, it felt revivalistic, both in aesthetic and attitude; Y2K, warts and all. Bared bodies arrived on the catwalk in skimpy silhouettes that showcased glossy, svelte bodies. To put it bluntly: the runways clearly didn’t reflect the conversations that a sexually-empowered generation are having about bodies and sex-positivity, but rather reverted to celebrating a singular beauty standard – one that appears as narrow-minded as it is narrow-hipped.”
Elsesser confirms this idea, saying: “Last season, even though it was all about sex, it was statistically the least body diverse season in the last five years. And I was like, “But weren’t y’all putting us in stretchy knit dresses for the last fifteen years anyway? So, couldn’t you put us in this mesh dress now?”
Elsesser and the interviewer add fuel to the already raging fire which is fatphobia in fashion. And with the resurgence of Y2K fashion, this trend is becoming more brazen.
Low-rise jeans, stomach baring ranks, and now this? Y2K fashion was born in the aftermath of heroin-chic and in the heyday of Paris Hilton, Effie from Skins, and modern-day diet culture.
It was also the zenith of sites like Tumblr, whose influence was on more than just style, but on an entire generation’s beauty standards. According to The Berkeley Beacon, “Much of the app’s popular outfits and sought-after styles were centered around a degree of beauty built on unhealthy and unattainable standards. Tumblr alone played a large role in the popularization and fetishization of extreme skinniness, often to the point of disordered eating.”
As niche trends from that era return, each one unlocks the memory of how fucked up that era of skinny-fetishization was. Are we doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past?
In a piece by In The Know, the ties between Y2K and fatphobia are revealed to be hypocritical and disgusting. “Not only are those trends hard to access for people above a size 2,” they said, “but when anyone else tries them on for size, they’re often seen as lazy and disheveled.”
This hypocrisy is in full view in today’s landscape. It’s not about a specific skirtset or low-rise jeans and belly tops, it’s about how we judge fashion and the value we assign to certain body types.
As Elsesser pointed out, the past year was one of the least body-diverse in fashion week history. This cannot be ignored. Despite their claims, the tastes of the industry are manifesting in Miu Miu.
Objectively, the mini skirt set is gorgeous. But why force us to watch a listless, runway parade of seemingly starving people when we’d prefer to see it above a sample size. And we should not simply meekly accept this. But we did — because it’s what we remain used to. But it’s time for that to change.