When Timothée Chalamet arrived at January’s Golden Globes clad in a bedazzled harness, his Louis Vuitton look — which, the brand swiftly clarified, was, in fact, an “embroidered bib” — became the red carpet’s most talked and tweeted about moment.
Several weeks later, Michael B. Jordan sported a similar style at the SAG Awards, this one featuring a colorful floral print. At an Oscars afterparty in February, Terry Crews took a croc-embossed version for a spin. And last year, both Chadwick Boseman and Adam Rippon stepped out in high-fashion harnesses of their own.
Long associated with the gay leather scene, it’s clear the BDSM-inspired accessory is having a major moment amongst Hollywood men of all sexual orientations. But does that mean we’ll see the trend extend beyond the celebrity set?
Virgil Abloh at the 2018 Met GalaGetty Images
Louis Vuitton’s men’s artistic director Virgil Abloh sure seems to think so. In a recent interview with Vogue, he referred to the “mid-layer garments” as the “keystone” of his entire creative vision for the brand.
“It was the actual very first thing I designed. I wore it to the Met Gala,” Abloh explained. “It doesn’t have the comfort or the security of a jacket, but it’s somehow empowering.” His harnesses, listed on Louis Vuitton’s website as “cut-away vests,” retail for $2,530.
“I get the ‘art’ aspect of fashion, and the runway will always have its place, but that doesn’t mean those things are going to translate into everyday life,” he told Page Six Style. “This looks like people standing out for the sake of standing out. I guess it serves its function, but that doesn’t mean it’s good style, and it doesn’t mean it’s going to have legs.”
Indeed, while plenty of industry insiders praised Chalamet’s and Jordan’s looks on social media and applauded them for challenging gender norms on the red carpet, far more were perplexed by their designer chest rigs, jokingly comparing them to everything from sports bras to bedazzled backpacks.
It’s worth noting that when female celebrities step out in fetish-inspired ensembles, those looks often do spark larger trends. As Page Six Style previously reported, after Kylie Jenner and Rihanna stepped out in latex looks by Vex, sales spiked for those styles. And thanks to the Kardashians, corsets (and clothing with likeminded lace-up detailing) have experienced a renaissance over the past few years, with versions popping up everywhere from Balmain to Forever 21.
But, Hunter said, “you see fewer men in the spotlight taking chances and being bold, combined with the fact that guys aren’t as prone to the effects of social influencers in that same way. Even when you see these bigger, bolder shifts from the norm — like when Kanye wore a kilt — it’s interesting to observe, but less likely to cause a trend.”
There are exceptions, however. “I remember when Ryan Gosling wore a dark burgundy suit in ‘Crazy, Stupid, Love’ … we definitely saw guys coming in and wanting to explore something like, and to be a little different,” Hunter recalled. “But [that suit] was tailored perfectly, looked really sharp and largely stayed within those general style rules.”
Adam Rippon in Moschino at the 2018 OscarsGetty Images
And while womenswear has been taking cues from the boudoir for decades, with slip dresses, silky camisoles and lace now all considered wardrobe classics, mainstream menswear has traditionally been slower to embrace sex as a source of inspiration.
Even noted fashion risk-taker Chalamet, when questioned about his Globes outfit on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” seemed eager to downplay the look’s SM roots: “I had a friend send me a thing that, like, sex dungeon culture is a thing where you wear harnesses. I didn’t do it for that reason.”
Still, while it’s unlikely that high-fashion harnesses will have mass appeal, Hunter pointed out that there are other ways to “play with the norm.” Those who appreciate belted details might try sporting suspenders, while adding a bold or colorful lining to the inside of a suit or jacket is a playful way to show personality while still looking occasion-appropriate.
Ultimately, he concluded, “it’s the difference between showing your sense of style and starting to dress like a clown. There’s this misconception that the more crazy is it, the more stylish you are, and I think that’s not true. Less is more.”