To be completely honest, this outfit was 100% inspired by Carine Roitfeld’s feature from the September Issue of Harper’s Bazaar, “Unmistakable, Unforgettable, Always in Fashion: Icons.” The spread featured Roitfeld’s styling of 16 fashion icons including Lady Gaga, Linda Evangelista, Lauren Hutton, Monica Bellucci, and many others. Each woman is shot wearing a different designer, but they all having one thing in common—all 16 icons are wearing fishnets.
I’ve always been a big fan of both fishnet stockings and Carine Roitfeld, thus I was enthralled when I heard about the feature. (Especially the image of Stephanie Seymour in an Azzedine Alaia bodysuit and corset belt. That was everything.) For the past month I’ve been inspired to actually try out fishnets in a “normal” look to see if I could pull them off. However, I thought it would be rather ridiculous to wear them in 90 degree heat so I waited until it cooled down a bit.
I also began thinking about the significance of Roitfeld’s use of fishnets as “the link” tying her feature together. Fishnets have had a strange social significance, appropriating different meanings throughout the decades, but always carrying an inherent sex appeal.
Similar to eyeliner, no one knows for sure the origins of fishnet stockings. However, we do know that they arrived to America via Parisian can-can dancers in the early 1900s. Consequently, up until the 1960’s fishnets were mainly worn by burlesque performers, prostitutes, flappers and other “loose women.” Some fashion forward screen sirens of the ‘40s and ‘50s wore fishnet stockings, but they were few and far between.
However, in the ‘60s, fishnets stockings gained mass appeal and were worn by women of all ages, with varying skirt lengths and shoe styles. Almost everyone wore fishnets at some point in the ‘60s—they were as common as our present day opaque black tights.
Women in the ‘70s punk counterculture adopted fishnets as an ironic statement about trends and mainstream conventions of beauty. It was in the late 1980s that we saw my favorite incarnation of the fishnet, with the likes of trendsetters such as Madonna donning tights, gloves, tops, and everything else imaginable made out of fishnet. Then, in the mid-90s the “goth” look began influencing mainstream designers, and somehow since then, they have been sold in department stores nationwide.
Although fishnet stockings are no longer considered “immoral” or “deviant” in Western fashion, they still aren’t deemed appropriate for most daytime events. For instance, most women wouldn’t wear fishnets to the office or church because they wouldn’t want to look “too sexy.”
In my opinion, it is the power of suggestion that makes fishnets so intriguing. They are subtle, and in some ways mysterious—making them somehow modern, yet timeless for the past 50 years.
This all being said, I love Roitfeld’s choice of fishnets as a consistent motif within her portrayals of each fashion icon. Fishnets have stood the test of time, spanning many decades and trends but always remaining edgy and sophisticated— just like the icons wearing them.
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