Pin It
bare's back

Opinion: bare's back?

London is flipping silhouette focus to the B-side, eroticising the back and shoulders

This weekend, several of London’s designers turned their attention to a silhouette focal point we haven’t seen for a while: the back. Showing skin in a controlled and beguiling way, designers revealed the curve of the lower back and the outline of a shoulder blade with a sense of both strength and vulnerability.

the subtle sensuality of Saunders’ and Unique’s naked back is an antithesis to the over-exposed pop stars of late

Last night at Jonathan Saunders, the designer made a big leap forward with his psychedelic boy-girl musings. Here, a number of exits featured naked backs framed by ruched detailing, and paired with his deliberately odd colour codes the flashes of skin felt fresh and surprising. Unique’s runway was also dominated by the undressed back, with the thinnest of spaghetti straps trailing down the back of otherwise modest sundresses.

Stepping outside of the slightly mothballed theory of the shifting erogenous zones – which attempts to explain fashion’s changing nature as a result of constantly shifting societal interests, as proposed by psychologist J.C. Flügel in the thirties and picked up again in the sixties by fashion historian James Laver – the look is perhaps a more general response to an oversexed culture of blatantly stripped-down bodies. Miley Cyrus did just release a music video of her swinging naked on a wrecking ball, licking a sledgehammer.

On the other hand, the subtle sensuality of Saunders’ and Unique’s naked back is an antithesis to the over-exposed pop stars of late, as if showing Cyrus et al how it should be done. Flipping focus to the body’s B-side is a clever way of reclaiming some mystery. Revealing the back while concealing the more obviously sexual front plays into the age-old notion of nakedness being uninteresting and clothes lending a sense of intrigue to the body.

Yesterday at Preen by Thornton Bregazzi, the designers showed a clean grey crew neck jumper that once seen from behind was open in a coolly sensual v-shape pointing towards the neck. Here, the cutaway shape tapped into a minimal nineties attitude and an elegant and subtle brand of sexy. As we go into the last two days of the London shows, it will be interesting to see if more designers will be backing the backless look.