One thing I truly adore about vintage style is that lethal combination of incredible sexiness with amazing elegance. Compare footage of award ceremonies from the 1950s with Instagram frenzy of images we see today – the sultry over-the-shoulder gaze of Lauren Bacall has been replaced by something far more overtly self-aware and managed. Maybe I’m too blinded by vintage glitz and glam, perhaps it was always this way, but those golden years seem so much more honest. I imagine that having a makeup artist, hairdresser, a gown by Dior or Givenchy, and something exceedingly twinkly on loan from Mr Harry Winston makes for a far simpler state of affairs than the palaver we see played out on the web these days.
At every red carpet event you will see stars wearing gowns that expose a daring amount of flesh. Dresses slashed to the thigh, cut to the waist, strapless, backless, sideboob… It is an easy way to reveal a lot of skin but in a safe and highly controlled manner, looking edgy and brave without any risk of revealing too much. It’s clever, but it’s not new, of course it isn’t, and we know that don’t we? This is why we are here, to celebrate the ones who did it first, did it better, did it with more finesse. Let’s consider the halter neck dress; all that exposed flesh just waiting to be caressed by the arm that circles your waist or tickled by the hair that falls past your shoulders. A quick glance and the impression is one of nudity, it takes one long sultry moment to realise the wearer is actually clothed.
The halterneck style is a true classic, it predates Liza Minelli wearing draped jersey Halston dresses at Studio 54. It even predates Marilyn in that white, pleated confection by Travilla, billowing out over the New York subway vent in The Seven Year Itch. You have to go back to Parisienne designer Paul Poiret in the 1920s to find early examples of the style. Whatever era, the style is amazingly sexy and yet still incredibly stylish. They say you should focus on one area when you want to expose some flesh, go for 50s pinup cleavage, or the exposed leg, but never both together. You may agree with this, but I make it a rule never to diss another dame’s style, it’s all good if it makes you feel good. However, I figure that a halterneck, vintage style dress, coupled with a bodycon dress fit makes for a perfect, sexy summer look that manages to dial up the sauciness without compromising on class.
A perfectly smouldering look for these long hot days.