Fashion has an indecent proposal to make: Lose the pants. That was the message at the Fall/Winter 2023 runway shows by brands such as Rick Owens, Dsquared2 and, most unapologetically, Miu Miu.
At Prada’s sister label, Miuccia Prada has been playfully exploiting the fashion set’s appetite for 2000s excess to reimagine quotidian clothing. She chopped off chino pants to create the viral Miu Miu micro skirt of Spring 2022 and every season since then, she has been raising hemlines, dropping waistlines and subverting underwear.
First, she made models wear logo briefs and boxers that peeked out above their skirts like they were Calvin Klein hunks; now, for the Fall 2023 show, she convinced actress Emma Corrin to strut her stuff in a pair of sheer tights worn under, not over, sequinned knickers, styled with a smart turtleneck sweater. Corrin’s look—variations of which were seen throughout the presentation—is a perfect representation of Prada’s philosophy, which she shared in an interview in 2012: “To me, the waist up is more spiritual, more intellectual, while the waist down is more basic, more grounded. It’s about sex.”
Dsquared2 is another Italian label that is in the business of selling sex this season. Like Prada, designers Dean and Dan Caten had the noughties on their mood board, but only the naughty parts. Their melange of Y2K fashion tropes include low‑slung waistlines and big buckle belts, which, apparently, are the best things to sling over your denim hot pants right now.
Celebrations of sleaze aside, stripping down to your panties can also be an act of rebellion. The models at Dilara Findikoglu’s presentation channelled the London‑based eponymous designer’s vision of Marilyn Monroe, which, unlike the one that she saw in the 2022 film Blonde, was in complete possession of her body. Findikoglu’s Marilyns were armoured in corsets and knickers that essentially say you can look, but don’t touch. “Everyone wants to see a piece of her skin, but this time, she’s doing it for herself,” expressed Findikoglu to WWD.
Indeed, a different kind of power dressing has emerged this season. Models at Di Petsa and Kimhekim donned black blazers and black briefs, offering a twist to tailoring. But that styling trick is not entirely new and in fact recalls one of fashion’s favourite anecdotes from 1968: New York socialite Nan Kempner, upon being denied entry to a restaurant for wearing a then‑controversial Saint Laurent Le Smoking suit, simply ditched her pants and passed off her jacket as a minidress.
For an idea of how this underwear trend can translate into evening wear, you need only look to the Rick Owens show. There, models with blacked‑out eyes dominated the runway in over‑the‑knee platform boots and long, dark dresses with waist‑high slits that exposed their undergarments. It was elegance of another world—or, simply put, classic Owens.
Fashion brands are showing us that there are countless ways to flaunt your underwear, regardless of your style. But while the trend seems democratic, the runway has mostly presented it on a specific body type: that of Kendall Jenner, Bella Hadid and Hailey Bieber. All three models were spotted bringing the trend out to the streets and all boast a figure that fashion has traditionally favoured—one shaped by youth, or certain genes, or fitness or diet. Or, if you ask those privy to celebrity gossip, Ozempic.
It is no wonder that the rise of underwear as outerwear coincides with the rise of Hollywood’s new favourite drug, which was designed to treat diabetes patients but is now sought after by those looking to slim down, fast. If celebrities are on it, the similarly image‑obsessed fashion set likely is too. And with that many people with money to spend and shiny new (and thin) bodies to show off, dressing them up is an offer that fashion powerhouses such as Miu Miu cannot refuse.
Think of underwear as the new logo T‑shirt. Now that luxury fashion is bored of streetwear, it needs a new basic piece that costs little to make, is easy to customise and can be priced at a nice premium. The humble underwear fills that gap—and can easily fetch up to $7,700 per pair, at least at Miu Miu. Trading your pants for panties might also be a tempting idea during the hotter months, given how temperatures are expected to rise even more thanks to climate change.
Vanity and practicality aside, a pair of designer underwear might just provide that dose of frivolity that your wardrobe needs. Prada thinks so. Backstage at the Miu Miu show, she declared: “If I were younger, I would go out in panties!”
This story originally appeared on GRAZIA Singapore.