From Marilyn to Kate: This is the history of the naked dress

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  • Thought the naked dress was a modern red carpet fad? Think again...

    When Marilyn Monroe was questioned about posing nude, she reportedly responded: ‘The body is meant to be seen, not all covered up.’ She certainly put those words into action when she sang ‘I Wanna Be Loved By You’ (in 1959’s Some Like It Hot) in a nude and silver-sequinned cocktail dress that ripples over her curves like water.

    Lace, mesh, sheer, chiffon…Monroe wasn’t the first – or the last – to embrace translucent, figure-hugging fabrics as an extension of this philosophy. We’ve been at it for centuries, devising new and wonderful ways to suggest our bare flesh without actually stripping off and showing it.

    Semi-transparent dressing has been shocking the public for years. For instance, did you know that in the 1790s hedonistic women were giving Kim Kardashian a run for her money with their semi-sheer muslin and flesh-coloured body stockings? French writer Louis-Sébastien Mercier coined the look ‘a la sauvage’ – meaning ‘wild’.

    Wild dressing may be a tricky look to master, but a handful of celebrities have managed to pull it off in more recent years: From Joan Crawford’s bejewelled, ethereal creations in the 1920s and 1930s, to Jane Birkin’s thrilling mini dresses in the 60s and that transparent metallic slip dress worn by Kate Moss in 1993…

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