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The Cannes 2023 red carpet saw the bra come out of hiding with a vengeance

The Telegraph gets you the deets

Swati Gautam | Published 31.05.23, 09:25 AM
Scarlett Johansson at Cannes 2023

Scarlett Johansson at Cannes 2023

Oh, how the world goes round and round, and that too in a couple of years. It was just yesterday that pyjamas and yoga pants were our go-to threads as we worked from home. Celebs threw off their bras and, what’s more, posted the same online with aplomb.

Cut to just two years later and what do we have? The bra is in comeback mode, more scintillating than the coming back of all the stars of all the cinemas put together. The bra doesn’t seem like just a bra anymore. It is part of couture gowns, right up where it doesn’t belong; boldly looking out onto the red carpet, as if, mocking us for daring to keep it under all along.


The peekaboo bra trend overwhelmed the red carpets of late. It’s not carelessly, or accidentally, slipping out of place; instead, it’s being showcased deliberately, over and above the delicate cleavages and necklines of some of the most high-end couture gowns; showing up gloriously in full public view, straps alongside.

Scarlett Johansson slayed this look at Cannes this year in a pale pink silk Prada strapless gown, a textured white bra seeming to hold aloft the ensemble with its straps. And no, this was not a wardrobe malfunction.

At the same premiere at Cannes was Rosie Huntington-Whiteley. She rocked a white Fendi super thigh-high slit gown, but left the bra and the straps doing more than a peek-a-boo. The bra dazzled with shimmer while the gown was silky smooth. Her confidence: super high. Earlier this year, Fendi had released a collection of gowns held up by what seemed like exposed straps and upper cups of bras.

And then there was Sydney Sweeney, the Euphoria star. She too exposed the bra confidently. A silky pale blue number, with straps, under a white silk slip dress. Dramatic or disturbing: The jury’s still out on that one.

Cannes also witnessed an outrageous look by Irina Shayk who wore tiny monogrammed Gucci bras and thongs, covered with a sheer barely-there net number. Model Cindy Bruna sported a Vivienne Westwood dress, the mast of which was her bra, fully exposed. Not to forget supermodel Elsa Hosk with her optical illusion gown by Viktor&Rolf. It was mind-blowing, the underwear firmly being outerwear.

Just a month before, at an Oscar Vanity Fair party, Olivia Wilde exposed a black leatherette bra worn with a white one-sleeved Gabriela Hearst gown. The paps loved it.

So when did it all start?

It’s difficult to pinpoint when. It was in autumn 2022 that Emily Ratajkowski fully exposed her nude satin bra and G-strings through a fishnet gown at a New York party. Back in 2021, Vogue had put Billie Eilish on its cover, with Bilie’s lacy pink bra and elastic strap totally exposed from under a satin bustier. A decade back, Amy Winehouse and Nicki Minaj were flaunting bras as fashion. But specifically with reference to what we’re seeing at Cannes this year, we must look back at 2004 and Mean Girls. To be fair, it was Lindsay Lohan who exposed that shocking pink bra and its straps with teenage sass for the first time ever. No wonder then, that for some years now, bras have been visible aplenty under blazers, but, never before have they come out of hiding with such a vengeance.

So what are we to make of it?

Shock value, fun value, anything-for-attention value, call it what you may, but the bar is being upped, or, perhaps the standards are being downed. Social media is divided. Some love it, some others are cringing at the casualness of the red carpet. Some fear it’s diluting the very idea of a Black Tie. Others feel that change is the only constant. What remains however is the memory of the whale tails — thongs visible from under very low-slung pants — which came, bombed and disappeared.

What’s also striking is that this trend at Cannes 2023 somewhat seemed like a half-hearted attempt at furtively doing away with what perhaps was a couturier’s mistake. For, it’s one thing to show off a bralette from under a lace or translucent garment, yet another to have it peek out from under a blazer, but, for a bra to be the sails that hold aloft the ship of a couture gown is in my opinion, a tad far-fetched. What in heaven’s happened to the millions of strapless bras that dot the globe?

In times of coronations, all that I can focus on is this: the bra was dead, long live the bra!

Pictures: Getty Images and Google

The author is the founder-CEO of NecessitySwatiGautam, a customised brand of brassieres.You can reach her at 

Last updated on 31.05.23, 09:25 AM

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