It’s time to head West—cinematically speaking, at least. Next month’s Cannes Film Festival lineup includes a surprising number of Westerns, including The Homesman, starring Meryl Streep, Tommy Lee Jones, and Hilary Swank (and co-written and directed by Jones), and Deux Jours, Une Nuit, a “Belgian Western” starring Marion Cotillard. We won’t attempt to explain how or why the world’s top filmmakers became collectively inspired by Western stories, but we will say this: From a stylistic standpoint, it makes perfect sense. Consider the recent obsession with all things Americana, a subject our editor in chief detailed in our latest issue of Style.com/Print. And of course, there was the Chanel Metiers d’Arts show in Dallas last December, in which models stomped down a hay-strewn runway in leather fringe, big gallon hats, and Native American motifs. It was the show that sparked a thousand Instagrams and had even the most discerning editors rethinking cowboy boots. As usual, Chanel was ahead of something huge. We’re curious to see if these new films at Cannes encourage a similar surge of interest in old-school American culture.
Well, well, well. It looks like we have some exhibitionists turning out for Fall ’14. There’s always a nipple here or there come show season, but in the past month, we’ve seen a bevy of naked bosoms proudly on display. While Jeremy Scott and Libertine‘s Johnson Hartig both put bare-chested models in sheer shirts at their Fall shows, the fuss really began (as it so often does) at Marc Jacobs. In her runway debut, Kendall Jenner floated down the catwalk in a transparent, nipple-flaunting sweater and the Internet went wild. Next came Malaika Firth, who walked braless in a see-through jumper at Fendi. And yesterday, Anja Rubik closed Anthony Vaccarello in a skirt slit up to here and a black point d’esprit blouse that left nothing to the imagination. Coincidentally (or perhaps not), the model created a series of T-shirts that read, “Don’t Fear the Nipple” to celebrate the latest issue of her erotic magazine, 25, back in November.
To be honest, these brazen nipples wouldn’t be so newsworthy if they popped up in the Spring collections. On more than a few occasions, designers have sent sheer tops down the runway that clients will layer with a tank or playful brassiere. But something about these pieces suggests that they should be worn as shown. Not to mention, this is Fall/Winter 2014. Sure, we’ve seen fur (faux and real) chubbies and coats aplenty, but I’m not sure I’d want to brave the Polar Vortex 2.0 with an exposed chest—even if I were enveloped in a cozy topper.
“Oh, this is just some crazy catwalk trend,” they’ll say. “We’ll only see it in artsy editorials,” they’ll claim. False. Always ahead of the curve, Michelle Harper attended New York fashion week, during which the temperatures maxed out at a whopping 32 degrees, in a pink-skirted frock with a totally translucent bodice and not much else. Yes, this craze has hit the streets.
Not surprisingly, Fall’s nipples have been raising eyebrows. (To that point, Instagram was apparently deeply offended by Henry Holland’s Fall ’14 inspiration image—a vintage photo of a woman in a diaphanous white top and no bra—that we posted as part of our Split-Second Preview series. The platform removed the snap just hours after it went up.) And even I, a strong proponent of boundary-pushing attire, have to wonder, are these sheer shirts a celebration of female anatomy and feminine power, or are they examples of vulgarity and objectification? (It’s worth noting that all the brands mentioned above are designed by men—not necessarily straight men, but men nonetheless.) Did each designer watch Free the Nipple before editing his collection? Did Femen have a hand in this? Is everyone just pandering to Miley Cyrus? I suppose the message these looks sends really depends on how, and in what context, they’re worn. Speaking of which, come Fall ’14, are women actually going to ditch their bras, slip on a thin veil of chiffon, and flaunt their breasts with gusto? I guess we’ll have to wait until the clothes hit stores to find out.
Florals aren’t exactly a “new” trend, but the eye-catching flora and fauna we’ve seen on the Fall ’14 runways definitely feel like they’re turning over a new leaf. Keep in mind these aren’t your typical ladylike, garden party flowers—there isn’t a pastel in sight. Instead, we’re seeing blown-up proportions, supersaturated hues, and a vibe that errs more toward artsy than girly. At Dolce & Gabbana, a black lace column was covered in tangled blooms and branches for a glam-meets-handmade effect. Stella Jean had quite the opposite approach, combining giant orange daisies with digital African-inspired prints. And at Marni, an oversize shift was covered in ruched white blossoms with pops of electric pink and green for good measure. Dressing like a flower child has never felt so modern.
Uh-oh, Pharrell, there’s another boldly hatted music mogul in town. Usher has apparently been sporting a Davy Crockett-esque fur cap around the past few days. Most recently, he wore it with a Navajo-print jacket, which made his look almost in tune with the Western-inspired Fall collections (cue Chanel Pre-Fall, Philipp Plein, and Burberry, among others). If this were a competition (and let’s be serious, it basically is), we’d have to give our vote to Pharrell’s iconic Westwood toppers. But this very well may mark the beginning of a new trend in the music community. Your move, Kanye.