It gets thin in fashion. Translucent fabrics are to be seen everywhere this summer: white transparent dresses at Valentino, a green see-through dress at Kenzo – and Fendi even has a dress in which only the collar and the logo are not see-through. So there is a lot of skin to be seen. This seems obscene to some, arguing that the female body is exhibited and the woman is made an object. However, transparency can be assessed very differently. And historically, the accusation of obscenity comes primarily from those who want to see women in the traditional role.
Luise von Mecklenburg-Strelitz, the wife of the Prussian king Friedrich Wilhelm III, was a pioneer of transparent fabrics. At the end of the 18th century, she introduced a new style to the court – you were shocked. About a chemise she wore: a floor-length white shirt dress made of thin fabric. Suddenly, the queen was no longer seen tied up and hidden behind masses of fabric, but for the first time perceived the natural body shape of a monarch. Luise wore generous cleavages and large back cutouts – and often transparent fabrics. All of this was called "nude fashion" in her day. The affront of such clothes once is difficult to imagine today.
Back then, more modest robes were expected from a queen. The French Queen Marie Antoinette had also worn chemise dresses. Because she presented herself as if she was wearing a nightgown and was enthusiastic about contemporary fashion, she was accused of being frivolous. This may have been doomed to her, because at that time many saw monarchs not as normal people but as God's people. By presenting herself in her passion for fashion, however, the queen became palpable in the eyes of her contemporaries. The fact that Marie Antoinette violated the codes of her time may also have benefited the French Revolution, which ultimately cost her life. By the time of Queen Luise in Prussia, the German nobility had already been warned of the revolution in France and was very modest. And a little later the transparent fabrics were over. This freedom of the female body lasted just under three decades, then corset and hoop skirt were introduced again.
Ultimately, it doesn't matter how much skin is shown, but who judges it – and how. Unfortunately, no revolution in the world has changed the fact that women have to justify themselves socially for their appearance.
Photo: Peter Langer / Illuminated: Transparent jacket from Woolrich