Bare abdomens are all the rage this season with singers and audiences favouring the cut-off look
If 2016 was all about the tracksuit and 2017 was all about the bum bag, 2018 is set to be the year that crop tops become festival fashion’s top dog.
At Coachella – the music festival that takes place in the California desert every April – unofficial poster girl Alessandra Ambrosio was one of hundreds of fans sporting the midriff-baring style. At London’s All Points East event during the late May bank holiday, rapper Stefflon Don performed her set in a black, long-sleeved crop top from her collaboration with the online retailer Boohoo. The musician Sudan Archives, one of the highlights of Field Day, in Brockwell Park, south London, on 1 and 2 June is also a fan.
Online searches for cropped tops are up 12% on last year, with spikes for halterneck and square-neck styles, according to the fashion search engine Lyst. Striped and short-sleeve variants are also proving popular, with the most-wanted pieces by Asos, Pretty Little Thing and Topshop. A spokesperson for Topshop said it saw a peak in searches during the Coachella period, adding: “Our festival-season trends talk to a spirit of celebration and optimism.”
It’s no coincidence that cropped tops have struck the right style note with some of the world’s most popular Instagram stars – making this another trend that can be attributed to “the influencer effect”. Selena Gomez, the most-followed person on Instagram with 138 million users, wore one in the music video for her recent single,Marshmellow Wolves. Kylie Jenner (109 million followers) likes hers in sweatshirt fabric, while model sisters Gigi and Bella Hadid, who have a combined following of 58 million users, have both recently shared images of them wearing their favourite cut-off piece.
The trend is an extension of what was on the catwalk in the spring/summer collections 2018, where crop tops came at us from myriad directions. Large luxury fashion houses such as Versace, Chanel and Balmain all made them a prominent catwalk feature, as did smaller, hip brands such as Marques Almeida, Off-White and JW Anderson (and the Hadid sisters were both sporting versions for Tommy Hilfiger in Milan).
The item does, however, come with a word of warning: “Like crochet dresses and spandex onesies – perennial festival favourites – the cropped top will not protect you from the elements,” says Alice Newbold, news editor of British Vogue. “Think of the awkward sunburn, and it’s not that transitional, unless you’re hopping from yoga tent to meditation tepee.
“Festival fashion is all about keeping it real and laying practical outfit foundations – unless your crop is a sports bra worn as an underlayer when schlepping across the field with a tent on your back, it doesn’t really count.”
THE LIBBEY GLASS COMPANY WAS facing stiff competition. It was the summer of 1893, and as many as 27 million people were shuffling through the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago. They pressed in to gawk at the grand plaster buildings rising above the Lake Michigan—meant to evoke ancient Greece and Rome—or marvel at new-fangled neon lights. The grounds were crammed with the old and the new, from recreations of ancient Egyptian temples to an early prototype for a fax machine. (Those crowds were also among the first to encounter a moving sidewalk, pancake mix, and elongated souvenir pennies.) In all that hubbub, it paid for exhibitors to have a gimmick.
The Libbey Company’s so-called crystal palace on the Midway Plaisance was not short of gimmicks. The Toledo, Ohio, glass company had built a soaring pavilion, with a 100-foot glass dome that also served as a chimney for the glass furnace inside, where guests could watch the molten material be worked into gleaming vases and lampshades. Trouble was, no one seemed especially interested.
To drum up enthusiasm, the organizers changed from free admission to a 10-cent price tag, which they soon pushed up to 25 cents. Something worth paying for was something worth waiting for, they reasoned. And soon enough lines were snaking out of the building. Attendees were able to put their admission fees toward Libbey-branded souvenirs, especially novelties such as neckties and dolls that incorporated spun glass. Visitors also queued up to be awed by the centerpiece: an evening gown made from threads of glittering glass, custom-made for American stage actress Georgia Cayvan.
For Libbey, the exhibition was a chance to show off their inventiveness, “not only what they usually did, but amazing, unheard-of things they could do with glass,” says Rebecca Hopman, outreach librarian at the Rakow Research Library of the Corning Museum of Glass.
When Eulalia, the Infanta of Spain, laid eyes on the gown, she knew she had to have one. In her memoirs, Eulalia bemoaned being a royal—one chapter was titled “The Irksome Duties of a Princess”—but she had regal taste in clothing. So she commissioned one from Libbey.
To “spin” these glass fibers, a glassworker used tweezers to pluck filament after filament from a rod dipped into a flame. These threads were often wound onto a wheel and then woven on hand looms, dressed with some organic fiber to cushion the fragile glass. According to Charlotte Holzer, a textile conservator who studies glass clothing, the ties and belts were fashioned by gathering bunches of fibers into braids. Dresses like Eulalia’s weren’t boxy sheaths made from pieces of glass, but rather consisted of very thin strands mingled with other fabrics, such as silk. The garment would have been shiny and fragile, but not so brittle that it would shatter at the slightest touch.
European royals had long been fashion trendsetters, so one would not be surprised that Libbey and other exhibitors thought that their “fiberglass” clothes could be the start of something new. Today, it’s hard to picture what we know as fiberglass as a component of clothing. “We know it for insulation, or hulls of boats,” Hopman says. “We think of it in a more industrial kind of way.” At the time, though, when it was woven with other soft, shiny fabrics, some people “thought that fiberglass clothing was going to be this new big trend.”
Newspapers agreed. Even before glass clothes captivated fairgoers in person, U.S. papers were reporting on experiments overseas. “It may seem a transparent falsehood to state that people wear glass clothing,” San Francisco’s Daily Evening Bulletin quipped in 1879, describing glass cuffs, collars, and veils said to be spun in Vienna, “but this sort of apparel may yet come into use.” After the fair, papers extolled glass fabric’s many virtues. Women who wore it would be “quite independent of the cleaner and the laundress,” they promised, because the glassy garments just needed a quick scrub with soap and water. Wool made with glass fibers was “lighter than feathers,” another paper added, and “cannot be distinguished from the genuine article.”
A Pittsburgh paper reported that three local ladies had ordered glass outfits, and an Indiana daily noted that spun glass bonnets were “being turned out by the thousand by a Venetian firm.” And, as ballrooms became illuminated with electric light, women’s gowns were often ornamented with crystals, satin, and other fabrics and accents that could catch and scatter the light. Glass fibers fit right in.
By the early 1900s, displays of glass garments traveled to department stores in Cleveland, Toronto, Chicago, and Detroit, where they stood in windows alongside some of the equipment—pots, iron molds, sand, lead—needed to produce them. One trade journal estimated that curious shoppers spent as much as 20 minutes gawking at a glass dress, which was modeled by a mannequin bearing a strong resemblance to the actress Maxine Eliot, who was said to have worn the garment on stage.
But Sarah Byrd, a fashion historian and instructor at the Fashion Institute of Technology, suspects that there wasn’t much of a real-world market for these clothes. The dress served a different purpose, she says, in “a moment of scientific explosion when it comes to synthetic fibers.” Silk was luxurious and valuable, but expensive and susceptible to pests. Textile makers and the general public were eager for cheap, durable alternatives.
Over the coming decades, synthetic materials blossomed and then reigned. The early 20th century saw the development of rayon—made from cellulose—and then nylon, the first wholly synthetic fabric. Marketing materials often variously trumpeted its similarity to the material it mimicked and its wondrously unnatural origins, Byrd says. The fascination with fiberglass dresses presaged the textile innovations that really did revolutionize fashion.
Eulalia’s sister donated her glass dress to the Deutsches Museum in 1924, but it didn’t hold up well. By the time Holzer examined it in detail a few years ago, it was pocked with holes and covered in grime. (She speculates that the poor condition could be, in part, a consequence of damage sustained during World War II, when its storage facility was a hard-hit bomb shelter.)
The glass dress never became as ubiquitous as nylon stockings, but it is a wearable distillation of the excitement about science that brought nearly one in four Americans to Chicago in 1893 for awe-inspiring glimpses of the past and the future. And, before long, synthetic textiles would be hanging in just about every closet in the country.
Exo’s multitalented members Kai and Sehun made show-stopping appearances at the fashion industry’s most glamorous runway shows.
Dressed in head-to-toe Gucci, Kai fashionably arrived and stole the spotlight at Gucci’s Cruise 2019 Fashion Show in Arles, France. The K-pop star had fans snapping pictures with him and tweeting, resulting in #GUCCI_KAI to trend worldwide.
The youngest member of EXO, Sehun, who is currently starring in Netflix’s first Korean variety show Busted!, also suited up in Louis Vuitton to attended Vuitton’s Resort 2019 Show held on the French Riviera. His chic ensemble stood out and garnered attention, which resulted in him trending on Twitter worldwide with #SEHUNxLV. He was also selected as the best-dressed man for the second year running by Vogue.
Makeup minimalism is back in a big way; partially as a reaction to the pervasive tedium of heavy, full coverage matte textures, and partially thanks to Meghan Markle, whose simple, skincare-first approach to makeup has bucked trends. The minimalist makeup she favours is not the sort of “natural look” that in reality takes two hours and a makeup artist to achieve.
Foundation is about selective concealment without ever minimising her signature freckles. Thanks to Markle, sheer textures and fresh finishes are popular again. Thank goodness for that – this approach to makeup suits almost everyone a lot better than a heavy mask, and it celebrates makeup as an enhancer, and not a crutch.
To emulate the look, focus on skincare rather than makeup – double cleanse nightly, incorporate an acid toner into your routine, and don’t forget that oils work for everyone (yes, even those with oily skin).
With your skin in good condition, makeup has less work to do. Opt for a sheer foundation, or skip it altogether and simply use a concealer like Laura Mercier Flawless Fusion Ultra-Longwear Concealer (€30 at Brown Thomas) to cover anything you would rather not draw the eye to. For that bit of extra coverage, buff more concealer under the eyes, and around the nose a mouth where redness and discolouration tend to be more obvious.
A cream cheek product looks more natural than a powder, and can be applied more quickly and with fingers. Chanel Hydrating Lip and Cheek Sheer Colour (€31 at Arnotts) is creamy, sheer and eminently wearable. It works just as well on lips as cheeks, blends dreamily, and is not at all drying. I love it for lazy days and travel.
Cream shadow is just as conducive to a quick makeup application as cream blush. Powders must be buffed and blended to prevent clumsy lines and uneven application. When I am less in the mood for hard work, and am feeling particularly rushed or incompetent, Trinny London Eye2Eye (€21.50 at brownthomas.com) is ideal. A cream shadow that applies very easily with fingers and gives a ‘done’ but very casually pretty Markle-style eye which is very fast and idiot-proof.
Perhaps the fastest way to give life and structure to the face is by very subtly filling in the brows to give them fullness and shape. Kat Von D Brow Signature Precision Brow Pencil (€21 at Debenhams) is small and solid enough to fill in individual hairs and comes in a wide range of shades to ensure that you get a perfect match. Opt for a shade very slightly lighter than your own brow colour for a completely natural looking finish.
To give the look a sense of being complete, don’t forget the lips. A balm or tint will do. Markle tends to favour soft cream or almost (but never quite) matte finish for a more natural appearance. Glossier Birthday Balm Dotcom (€12 at glossier.com) is a beautiful rich balm with a soft sheen and a touch of glitter shot through. The glitter is not at all obvious, but gives the balm a little something extra.
Fashion trends come and go quickly these days. But there’s one fashion staple that will always always be a hit every single summer—crisp, bright white.
The look might be intimidating, especially if you’re one of those accident-prone people who can’t make it through lunch without spilling something on your shirt. But don’t forget how drastically a white accessory can transform any outfit. You can opt for a white dress, jeans, a blouse, shoes, or wear white head-to-toe. It’s super-easy to incorporate the summer essential into your look.
Pistol Panties is a swimwear brand that exudes pure glamour. Founded by British/Columbian designer, Deborah Fleming, she set out to create thoughtfully designed swimwear pieces that are cut to flatter and enhance our best bits, and she did just that. Naturally, there’s also a focus on quality fabrics, detailing and the manufacturing process.
Pamela Bubble Swimsuit as worn by Mary Charteris
The silhouettes offer something for everyone, whether it’s an old school or contemporary vibe. High waisted bottoms, push up bras and form fitting one-pieces that would make Marilyn Monroe proud sit happily alongside little triangle sets for today’s beach babe. There’s also super-glam, wafty kaftans for channeling your inner Elizabeth Taylor. We’re sold.
Deborah Fleming, Founder of Pistol Panties
What was your first fashionable memory? My Mum had a boutique in Paris, in the 70’s for most of my childhood. She didn’t have childcare so she took me to her shop with her every day from when I was a baby. I would sit and play in the mezzanine balcony of the shop and would watch the very chic Parisian ladies come in and get fitted for dresses. I remember the ladies being very picky about how they wanted their dresses to be. French woman know exactly how they want to dress, they never care about fashionable trends, they just want to wear things they know look good on them. This always stuck with me, and to this day I never follow fashion trends, I design mainly thinking about what would look best on my customer.
Describe your perfect summer…Renting a Villa in Italy, either Sicily or Puglia in as remote of a place as possible. A rustic farmhouse with a view, endless fruit trees, a simple barbecue, and tons of farmland. I love being outdoors with the children all day and into the evening and just living in a bikini the entire holiday!
Jane Jet Black Swimsuit
What’s the aesthetic of the Pistol Panties brand?The brand has evolved from a very 1950s styling to now referencing iconic woman from every decade from the 1920s to modern-day icons.
Who is your customer? A girl who feels good in what she is wearing. Confidence is the best accessory!
Do you have a favorite piece/s? The Marilyn Bikini, a retro push-up style with a frilly skirt was one of my first designs and it is still our best-seller. The style really puts the girl “en valeur” and brings out her best assets.
Marilyn Vintage Blue & Orange Polkadot Bikini
How has your brand evolved? Pistol Panties has evolved in so many ways. Mainly our customer has evolved with us. We have been dressing girls on the beach from when they were teenagers to now and they are fabulous Mummy’s and our designs have evolved with them to suit their changing shape. The brand has also evolved in its collections, with the launch of our CUp-size range “Big guns” we have now expanded our market considerably. We are also very excited to be launching a men’s swimming trunks range next year. Watch this space!
Each September, flurries of photos featuring desert-locked music lovers outfitted in wondrously outlandish garments saturate the fashion media sphere. Intricately webbed leather harnesses, twinkling chainmail bralettes, Herman Munster-style platform boots and feather-studded capes briefly replace white sneakers and floral dresses as the coolest street style pieces du jour. Burning Man fashion is unequivocally some of the most creative and boundary-pushing around but because the event is heavily attended by models, influencers, socialites and the like—individuals who have their looks curated by a stylist and will get more hits in a slideshow than non-celebs—oftentimes, the truly exceptional outfits of other attendees fly under the radar.
Luckily, there’s Lightning in a Bottle for that. Hosted by the Do LaB over Memorial Day weekend, the four-day event takes place on Bradley, California’s mountain-ringed Lake San Antonio and boasts some of the most utterly original festival style—and one of the most unique festival experiences—around. Some call it a baby Burning Man and it’s easy to see why. Not only does it boast music stages so brilliantly and beautifully designed that they look like works of art, but it hosts enough actual works of art—everything from huge installations to nighttime painting displays—that you could be perfectly happy to spend your whole weekend looking rather than listening. The music too, though, is excellent. This year’s lineup included Anderson Paak, Sofi Tukker, Tokimonsta, Zhu, Griz, The Black Madonna, CloZee, Nicole Moudaber and more in one of the most gender-balanced rosters ever. If you’re sick of seeing the same 20 names on every lineup Lightning in a Bottle’s will delight you. Looking to expand your consciousness between sets? LiB offers incredible workshops, panels, yoga classes and performances that are open to all attendees. Why not learn about the movements and leaders re-shaping the world from journalist Amy Goodman or witness a traditional Native American fire ritual?
Because of what the festival offers—a truly transformative experience—it draws a crowd that is similar to that of Burning Man: open minded creatives who care about art, the earth, connecting with others and bringing beauty to the world. Which, of course, translates gorgeously into what they wear. Handmade crowns, meticulously painted jackets, ferociously fuzzy coats—looking at the festival’s fashion is like looking into a Tim Burton-tinged kaleidoscope. The style vendors at the festival are also unique in that they are all independent, most of them value ethical and sustainable practices at their core and they create with the goal of aiding individual self expression in mind. At LiB, people dress to express, not to impress. As Foxy, the festival’s fashion vendor curator, puts it, “I think it’s part of our responsibility as a conscious festival to support independent designers. They’re helping to educate festival-goers about ethical production methods and are selling these amazing one-of-a-kind pieces and are also helping to educate festival goers about ethical practices from sustainability to fair trade. These are extremely creative people who are doing amazing work that is focused on community as well as fashion.”