From Kim Kardashian’s Marilyn Monroe tribute to Florence Pugh and Bella Hadid, female nudity has visceral power.
The best way to get noticed in 2022 was to wear an invisible dress. From Kim Kardashian in a skin-tone sheath dress previously worn by Marilyn Monroe to Florence Pugh in a pink Valentino sheer one-piece, “naked glam” was the style that defined 2022.
After a decade of demure trends, when high necklines and puff sleeves ruled the runway and loose midi dresses replaced pencil skirts as office powerhouse wear, this year the body is back in the spotlight.
The nearly nude dressing is back, but the new look is, in the Instagram vernacular, heavily filtered. Long but ultra-sheer dresses that highlight the body and retain an air of mystery have replaced short skirts and plunging necklines.
The patron saint of nude glamor is Marilyn Monroe. In a 1960 interview with Marie Claire, Monroe recalled how when an earlier reporter had asked her what she wore to bed, “I said, ‘Chanel No 5,’ because it’s the truth…and yet I don’t want to say.” naked.'” From then on, nudity—or the suggestion of it—was key to her brand. In May of this year, Kim Kardashian grabbed headlines at the Met Gala by wearing the dress Monroe wore to sing her the happy birthday to the president of the United States, John F Kennedy, 60 years earlier.In 1962, the shock value of the dress lay in its transparency and because Monroe’s wardrobe choice was interpreted as suggestive of an intimate relationship with the president. In 2022, the value of the surprise was that Kardashian revealed that she had lost 16 pounds to fit into the dress, by not eating solid food for three weeks.
The most talked about red carpet dresses of the year, the most fashionable wedding dress of the year, and the runway moment that went viral at Paris fashion week involved nude dresses. Valentino’s couture show in July took over Rome’s Spanish Steps like a catwalk, but it was Pugh’s front-row look, braless in a sheer fuchsia halter-neck gown, that grabbed the headlines. The actor’s Don’t Worry Darling director Olivia Wilde took the baton for “Free the Nipple” at the Academy Museum gala three months later, in a silver Alexandre Vauthier case so thin that what was underneath, only a pair of shoulder pads, it was clearly visible.
The most recent runway season’s viral moment came at Coperni’s Paris fashion week show, when model Bella Hadid stood in her panties as a dress was sprayed onto her skin. Fabrican is a liquid mixture of natural and synthetic fibers applied by spray, which becomes a non-woven fabric when it comes into contact with the surface of the body. After 10 minutes, Hadid was wearing a dress solid enough that a technician could add a slit to the hem and fold the neckline down to cover her shoulders, but it was still so X-ray sheer that, like diamond-studded crystals. In Monroe imitation, it seemed to read like nude. The clip has been viewed more than a million times on TikTok.