People always say—well OK, not just people, but the kind of fashion-industry types one discusses these matters with—that the reason you see so much nudity on runways is that when an ensemble skims over a bare naked lady, it is easier to observe the wonderful clothing. That its extraordinary construction, its exquisite seaming, the way it flows and drapes, is undefiled by anything so plebeian and gross as underwear.
This may or may not be the case. (Would you be shocked, shocked to find out that the attention that invariably attends nubile flesh may not have much to do with how well it shows off a swath of silk?) Whatever the reason, the compulsion to bare a belle poitrine, to flash a frisky cheek, has with each passing season grown more audacious—and it is not restricted to spring/summer collections, where it might make a tiny bit of sense. Nor is this practice confined to obscure avant-garde artistes: a pulchritudinous game of peek-a-boo informs Alexander McQueen’s flimsy chiffon naughtiness, Valentino’s glitter mesh, Gareth Pugh’s venetian blinds, Anthony Vaccarello’s tantalizing slash-and-burn, Marc Jacobs’ sheer glory (sported by Kendall Jenner, whose brief fashion moment was swept away by her half-sister’s cover-girl turn) and, believe it or not, even staid old Akris, who recently brandished a maxi that appeared to be woven of fishing net. (Though none of these, despite their fearlessness, comes close to the British renegade createur Pam Hogg, who sent out her shivering, quivering subjects sans even the protection of pasties and G-strings.)
Well, so what? I can hear you snort now. What’s new? Didn’t Jerry Hall and a zillion other Studio 54 inebriates rock sheer bodysuits decades ago? Wasn’t every schoolboy’s dorm room at one time adorned with the perky nipples of Farrah Fawcett? And you have a point—in our deeply irreverent 21st-century world, where people turn up at business offices with their stinky toes wriggling in rubber thongs, the sight of an errant secondary-sex characteristic should not provoke even a raised eyebrow. But the truth is, we may not have traveled very far from poor Janet Jackson’s wardrobe malfunction after all: To wit, in the last several months the priggish folks at Instagram have removed pictures of the luscious half-clad model Anja Rubik, deeming her ensembles too scandalous for innocent eyes.
Rubik, who publishes a wildly frank magazine called 25 that is not exactly known for its shy pictorials, and whose unofficial personal motto is “Don’t Fear the Nipple” (she’s had it emblazoned on T-shirts), thinks the whole thing is ludicrous. “It’s quite frustrating, especially because, when you look through Instagram, there are so many crude, vulgar images, which are apparently fine,” she told an interviewer. “What’s the worst thing that will happen? Even if it’s children flipping through, why should they be offended by a breast?”
Why indeed? Right about now you may be asking yourself, Where does Lynnie stand on all this? I actually have a unique perspective, as I am the kind of girl who wears a couple of smock dresses over a tutu at the beach. (Not lying—ask the guys on Cherry Grove.) Having always been hideously modest myself, I am horrified and sad for those underfed birdies, recently arrived from tiny villages in Estonia or Siberia, now shlumphing down a runway practically in the altogether, at an age when I was afraid someone would catch a glimpse of me in my training bra in the Jones Beach locker room.
But I suspect that, like Instagram, I am frightfully behind the times. (In fact I am so retrograde I don’t even have Instagram—I use a BlackBerry, and go ahead and mock me, but don’t you miss that keyboard?) And I have to admit I have picked up some unintentional wisdom watching pounds of flesh parade in front of me twice a year—and I don’t mean a lot of claptrap about fabric and seams. How else would I have learned how to distinguish a surgically enhanced booby from its authentic sister? Hint—it has to do with the way it curves when viewed in profile. If that is way more than you really wanted to know—well then, I suggest you avert your eyes from the next round of runway shows: Like it or not, the spring 2015 runway shows, set to unspool in September, will no doubt offer a veritable orgy of bodacious bobbing breasts and terrifically toned tushies.