Turns out, skin has been in for a long time. Beginning with icons like Marilyn Monroe (Happy Birthday, Mr. President!) and Caroll Baker, the naked dress was born. More "naked" than "dress," the trend is all about strategically placed mesh and going commando. Yep, when the point of a gown is to show off the derrière, underwear is pretty moot. So scandalous!
Marilyn Monroe's breathy performance of "Happy Birthday, Mr. President," sung to President John F. Kennedy and 15,000 guests at his birthday celebration in New York City, wouldn't have been half as famous without that dress. Designed by the French fashion legend Jean Louis, the gown was crafted from a flesh-colored, sheer fabric with over 2,500 rhinestones sewn into it — if a dress had ever looked painted on, it was this one. Following her serenade, President Kennedy took the stage and said, "I can now retire from politics after having had 'Happy Birthday' sung to me in such a sweet, wholesome way."
Baker wore this translucent, virtually topless Balmain gown to both the U.S. and U.K. premiers of her film The Carpetbaggers, but it was the red carpet outside London's Plaza Theater that generated the most buzz. "Buzz" might be putting it too mildly — men actually crashed through a in an attempt to get a glimpse of Baker before she entered the theater.
Cher picked up the Academy Award for Best Actress for her moving performance in Moonstruck, but it's safe to say that the public was just as riveted by her choice of dress at the ceremony. A hybrid between a bra and a sarong, Cher's sheer Bob Mackie design exposed the entirety of her toned stomach and legs, with a strategic clustering of rhinestones just below the navel.
Kate Moss wore this silvery slip dress — with just a pair of black briefs underneath — to the Elite Model Agency Look of the Year party at the Hilton in London in 1993. Moss, just 19 at the time, frequently wore lingerie-inspired daywear, but this is still considered one of her most iconic looks. Considering the model's long-lived career, this really speaks to the gown's shock value.
Jennifer Lopez brought the naked dress into the 2000s when she rocked this verdant silk dress to the 42nd Grammy Awards. Patterned with tropical leaves, the gown's most compelling feature was a deep-dive neckline, which ended with a citrine-studded brooch just below her navel. Often considered the fashion moment that made Versace a household name, it was also the moment that made J.Lo. Just 24 hours after the ceremony, her photo had been downloaded 642,917 times from the Grammy's website. Today, the gown has its very own .
This short, sequined Zuhair Murad dress, which Perry wore to the 2010 MTV Movie Awards, was quite the optical illusion under the singer's shimmering blue wig.
A seamless blend between retro femininity (those polka dots, though!) and sex appeal, Kate Winslet's cut-out dress proved that the naked dress didn't have to be overtly shocking to be memorable...
... but then again, shocking often takes the cake. At the 2012 InStyle Golden Globe After Party, it looked as though model Erin Wasson had simply shredded a more formal gown before stepping in. Seriously how did a malfunction not happen here?
The secret to keeping this Azzaro Couture in place? "There was a lot of toupee tape," Alexander joked to Jay Leno on .
Sure, Gwyneth Paltrow's Antonio Berardi gown is provocative — the hip-to-floor sheer panel delivers on that — but as far as naked dresses go, it's not next level. Things got dicey, though, when Paltrow realized that she'd have to sit in the dress during the Iron Man 3 premier. "I kind of had a disaster," the actress on her show after the premier. "Let's just say everyone went scrambling for a razor."
To accept the CFDA's Fashion Icon of the Year award, Rihanna pushed fashion to its limit in a custom Adam Selman slip-gown made from 230,000 Swarovski crystals. Beyond a nude pair of underwear, there was nothing separating Rihanna's bare body from the cameras, an obvious fact that sparked some serious controversy. It's likely that this is the most naked anyone has ever been on the red carpet.
British socialite Lady Victoria Hervey wore this design — well, half a design — by the Indian designer Gaurav Gupta to the 2014 Golden Globes. With one half of her body completely enclosed in black mesh, the entirety of her naked right side was revealed. The other half was composed of sequined brush strokes, which covered only the essentials.
With her hair in the highest possible ponytail, Beyoncé let her Haute Couture gown do all the talking at the 2015 Met Gala (which, as you'll see on the next two slides, could have been called "The Naked Dress Awards"). Besides the bands of gemstones and crystals covering the artist's chest, bum and nether regions, the gown was really just a sheet of mesh — albeit a stunning sheet of mesh.
Wearing another design by , Jennifer Lopez's crimson gown payed homage to the 2015 Met Gala's theme, "China: Through the Looking Glass," with a ruby dragon that wrapped around her body. As evidenced by Lopez's 2000 Grammy dress, she and Donatella Versace have a seriously good thing going on.
See what we mean by "Gala of the Naked Dress?" In , Kim Kardashian was a fairly naked ice queen. You really have to look for the mesh here — it appears as if a team of stylists simply stuck Swarovski crystals onto her body.
At the GQ and Grammys Afterparty, 19-year-old Kylie Jenner went for a semi-sheer, open-back gown with intense side cut-outs, combining the illusion of nudity with actual nudity.
At the , Ciara wowed the cameras with this form-fitting, high-neck Reem Acra gown. It was the intricate beading and laser-sharp cut outs — and Ciara's incredible legs, of course! — that really hit this number home.
At the 2015 Vanity Fair Oscar Party, Irina Shayk's half-dress, half-sheer catsuit sparked some serious debate — namely over whether or not she was wearing anything underneath said catsuit. Based on what we've learned so far? Probably not.
Ashley Graham flashed some skin at the 2015 MTV Music Awards with this sheer bra, panty and rhinestone-covered overlay ensemble.
If you're thinking, "No way," while staring at Bella Hadid's vermillion Alexandre Vauthier gown — which won the 2016 Cannes Film Festive red carpet — so was everyone else. Last year, Hadid's stylist, Elizabeth Sulcer, told how the model pulled it off: "The dress has a built-in silk bodysuit. Top-stick [tape] is always a good idea. Practice makes perfect."
Unfortunately, the gown Chrissy Teigen wore to the 2016 American Music Awards did not come with a built-in bodysuit. The dress, designed by Yousef Akba, featured two chest-high slits held together by a single safety pin, making underwear impossible. "Apologies to anyone harmed mentally or physically by my hooha," Teigen wrote on , after a series of wardrobe malfunctions.
In a design by Julien Macdonald, model Emily Ratajkowski showed more skin than sequins at the BAZAAR Icons Party. While this number looks like adjustment-central — how does one not fall out of two tiny straps? — Ratajkowski claimed that it was easy to wear. "It's actually very comfortable and simple, and I feel great," she told .
At the 2016 Daily Front Row Awards, Gigi Hadid's billowy and romantic Yanina Couture gown looked dreamy over a white bodysuit.
Like Gigi, Kate Upton opted for the bodysuit and see-through dress combo for her 24th birthday celebration — but Upton kicked it up a notch. Over a cheeky , the model's translucent star-covered Jenny Packham gown showed quite a bit of her birthday suit.
Based on what we've seen so far, Priyanka Chopra's semi-sheer Zuhair Murad gown seems opaque — but donning any variation of a naked dress on Oscar Night is a bold choice.
At the 2016 London screening of Doctor Strange, Rachel McAdams stunned in a one-shoulder gown covered in blue and silver birds — since the skirt and bodice of her gown were sheer black, those birds looked as if they were mid-flight.
Sure, Bella Hadid isn't leaving much to the imagination in this clear style, but it's also easy to imagine that this is what a goddess looks like when she is born — naked, but star-dusted.
We're used to thigh-high slits (which this dress has), but a right-shoulder-to-left-pelvic- bone slit? That's a new one. The torso slash on Kendall Jenner's Couture 2017 Met Gala gown wasn't the most scandalous part, however. The back revealed Jenner's high-waisted thong underwear, covered with what looked like .
At the 2017 SAG Awards, Tarji P. Henson topped the best dressed list (and the competition! She won for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture for Hidden Figures) with this see-through mauve Reem Acra design. Henson's partially shaved head juxtaposed boldly against the gown's tiny black bows, striking the perfect balance between edgy and sweet.