It is a bib, it is a tie, it is a vest, oh no, wait…it is a harness! The red carpet is an alternate, delightful dais, besides fashion weeks, to spot nouveau trends and to brush up one’s sartorial diction. And this time – if not entirely – the boys stole the flashlight and left millennials to ponder over the hashtag-worthy accessory: male harness or as the high fashion brands have now clarified – the embroidered bib (fashion terminology alterations, we say).
Actor Michael B Jordan bewildered viewers at the recent Screen Actors’ Guild awards by slipping a purple floral harness over a classic double-breasted tux while actor Timothee Chalamet wore a glittery black piece to the Golden Globes last month. And Jordan’s co-star, the Black Panther lead, Chadwick Boseman was also seen rocking a shiny white number over his ecru suit, at one of the red carpets, last year. So, if you think a black tux, white shirt, leather shoes, is all you need that you ace your sartorial game, think again.
Stylist Rishi Raj says, “Sex and fashion have always shared a deep connection. I often jest that how well you are dressed can be measured by how quickly someone wants to undress you. What’s heartening to see is that while till now women were supposed to turn up on the red carpet looking like sex goddesses, all the time, it’s the men who are becoming more adventurous and expressive without having to show endless amounts of skin and leg.”
Abe Samuel, Jordan’s stylist, called the look “classics with a twist” on Instagram, while Jordan explained his decision by telling Variety: “Why not? It was just like f–k it. I’m going to do it.” However, for stylist, Nitasha Gaurav, who is known to style actor Ranveer Singh among other celebs, the male harness is just a fad. “It won’t sustain for long. With Jordan’s harness, I could see that they tried to pull off a juxtaposition of sorts by mixing elements that represent femininity (a floral theme of the harness) and masculinity (tux)…but it doesn’t work, for me.” She also feels that it – to don a harness over formalwear – is not a new phenomenon as in early 2000s women were seen donning it, what’s different this time is merely the change of gender.“It doesn’t add anything to the garment,” she says.
Fashion designer Swapnil Shinde says that he always has been referring to a lot of bondage referencing in his collections. “The whole idea of caged bodies is liberating…Restraint triggers the beauty of freedom. It subtly suggests how as a whole, we, in our society, have become brave and acceptable to a diverse point of view.” Fashion designer Kunal Rawal, too, confesses that he is a “huge fan of harnesses” as it falls “totally in my aesthetic”. “I love surprise elements as an added detail when it comes to black tie or occasion wear.” However, he didn’t like Jordan’s getup: “Something about the shape just doesn’t sit for me.”
Ask Shinde if the red carpet trend will spill over to the Indian scene and he nods, “Yes, I think it will. India as a (fashion) audience is getting more and more acquainted with global trends. I doubt if high street will embrace the trend, but red carpet in India will soon be entrapped in this quirky detailing as a lot of young Bollywood is dating and experimenting with their looks for their appearance.”
With this quirky/kinky accessory, fashion is surely dipping its toes into the S&M style movement, and Rishi says, “This subtle, tongue-in-cheek suggestion of BDSM at a formal event is a great way of pushing the envelope, and spicing things up a bit. And given that the majority of male celebrities and guests end up in boring black tuxedos, I feel the harness trend can actually act as a new-age accessory and add some variety to those sartorial projections.”