Is it a bib or a harness? That was the question we all had to think about two weeks ago, after Beautiful Boy’s star Timothée Chalamet wore an embellished accessory over his tight black button-down at the Golden Globes. Technically, and according to Louis Vuitton’s PR team, it was a bib, but that did not stop the vast majority of Chalamet fans from referring to him as a harness.
That’s because it’s very similar to what used to be called male fashion harness, which in the past comprised bib-type machines that looked as if they were designed for either a parachute or some sort of S & M action. Furthermore, the man who designed Chalamet’s accessory is the modern figurehead for harness, bib, skydiver for men, whatever you want to call it.
Virgil Abloh showed harness for his debut in Spring 2019 as the creative director of men’s clothing at Louis Vuitton, and celebrities such as Chalamet and Chadwick Boseman have since tested them on the red carpet. Abloh himself is known from time to time to wear a T-shirt over a T-shirt.
On the day Abloh unveils his new Michael Jackson Line lineup for LV, one has to wonder how and why this personal obsession arose from him.
The King of Pop was known to wear crockery in 1993 to perform in the Super Bowl, a gilded, military-inspired version that became one of Jackson’s most memorable stage ensembles. Before MJ made it look cool, men’s belts became staples of the leather bar scene in a queer culture. It is a product of sexual fetish that has finally entered the creative consciousness through artists such as Tom of Finland, architect Peter Marino,
musicians Marilyn Manson and Madonna, and most recently by Lil Uzi Vert. Fashion designers like Vivienne Westwood, Helmut Lang, Alexander McQueen and Rick Owens were also fascinated by the body equipment.
Westwood brought bondage into the mainstream when she opened her sex fetish boutique in London in 1974. This idea infiltrated the collections of designers who adopted the traditional men’s fashion codes (dress tight and shirts) and attached a harness to it. Lang did so many times with minimal white harnesses on bare models wearing only flawlessly cut black pants.
McQueen put on men in overalls, and Owens added a one-shoulder version to a male rock-and-sleeveless T-shirt combination. Other literal interpretations were created by designers who often used S & M as an inspirational starting point in their collections, including Jeremy Scott and Shayne Oliver.
Abloh’s iteration is not sexually outdated, but it has deep connections to S & M’s runway plays and those worn by pop culture icons, including Abloh’s current muse, Jackson. For the fall of 2019, the designer may have hit the crockery only with huge leather sashes and a bulletproof, vest-like piece, but the atmosphere still plays a big part in its aesthetics.
And as the season of awards rises and more and more male actors emerge in LV-branded harnesses (bibs?), The opportunity for men’s belts to increase in 2019 is opening up. If anyone can do that, then Abloh: designer, artist, DJ, master of male fashion harnesses.