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To celebrate the easing of restrictions in Miami in April, Beyoncé and her husband Jay-Z went out for a lavish dinner with friends. Her post-lockdown outfit? A sheer mesh mini-dress complete with long matching gloves by UK label Auné. The $275 dress instantly sold out online.
Beyoncé’s attire reflects the same mood as the spring/summer runways – sheer joy. At Maison Margiela, tops and tango dresses were draped in tulle and hoodies made in crushed organza. Jil Sander by Lucie and Luke Meier saw layered gauzy separates in tonal colours and made in sheer silk. Sportmax layered a sunflower-yellow organza mini over a sculptural bodysuit; at Dior, Maria Grazia Chiuri left little to the imagination with billowing chiffon gowns that exposed high-waisted briefs and bralettes.
But why sheer and why now? “There’s both a sensual and intimate aspect to sheer clothing, the way it can be layered to conceal and reveal,” says 28-year-old British designer Charlotte Knowles. “It is liberating.” Knowles’s body-tight mesh dresses, cut-out bodices, leggings and thigh-split skirts are firm favourites of Bella Hadid, Kylie Jenner and, again, Beyoncé. Her spring/summer collection includes all her core signatures – long-sleeve mesh tops with psychedelic flower prints, acid-trip-worthy ruched leggings and mini-dresses with straps that criss-cross at the back and over the arms. “We wanted it to convey hope,” she adds.
London-based, British-Indian designer Supriya Lele is also known for incorporating transparent elements into her collections. This season, Lele wanted to play with the idea of being able to expose or cover up at the wearer’s leisure: thigh-skimming mini-dresses were overlaid with clever adjustable sheer hems, while cowl-neck tops could be gathered or let out to reveal or conceal the skin. “Not everyone is willing to go all-out just yet,” adds Lele.
Indeed, there are plenty of ways to adopt the season’s sheer trend without baring it all. Bottega Veneta’s technical mesh-collared shirts in scarlet or petrol blue reveal just a hint of what’s underneath. Acne has translucent, logo-emblazoned bodysuits that are ideal for layering underneath a blazer or knit. And Alexander McQueen’s single-breasted organza coat features a tailored, nipped-in waist and dramatic asymmetric sheer hem – perfect for wearing over suit trousers or wide-leg jeans.
“It’s just about the context,” says Knowles, when asked how to style sheer clothing. “It’s about finding a balance. A way to wear sheer pieces without feeling too ‘revealed’ is to simply layer it up, wear a complimentary bra or top beneath, or try a sheer dress worn over a pair of flared leggings.”
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