What springs to mind when you think of a “black cut-out bodycon dress”? Alaïa’s sexy ’80s archive? ’90s pioneer Hervé Leger? Or perhaps Nicole Sherzinger’s equally groundbreaking 2015 Missguided collab?
Personally, I’m somewhere in the grey zone: a mid-week club night at Oceana Milton Keynes dancing in clouds of Hollister body spray and necking shots of Apple Sourz. But that’s no disrespect to the cut-out LBD. It was a dress that ruled Friday nights on British high streets for the best part of a decade – no mean feat. The hazy memories of WKD and fake tan don’t tarnish its legacy, they only add to it. It’s a sartorial classic. A dress of the people.
Back in 2016, Mail Online declared bodycon dresses were finally out, having “fallen victim to their own popularity”. But the trend cycle just keeps on cyclin’. It’s only been six years, and the cut-out bodycon is back with a bang, thanks to Alexa Demie as Maddy Perez in HBO’s Euphoria, which debuted the first episode of its second series last week.
In true, blue-tinged Euphoria style, the episode was full of outfit inspo. But it was Queen Bee Maddy’s New Year’s Eve fit – a tight black cut-out mini dress with matching gloves by independent Mexican label Akna Stores – that stole the show.
The look, which gives Instagram baddie-turned-goth, prompted a flurry of internet activity. Lyst reported an 890% increase in searches for “black cutout dresses” after the episode aired, and Akna Stores was left overwhelmed with pre-orders. (Not that Gen Z was phased – cue savvy teens sharing their homemade creations on Twitter and TikTok).
True, most of us haven’t worn a black cut-out dress since our teens, but they never really went anywhere. They’ve just been lurking in the Boohoo sale section and on influencers with suspiciously Kardashian-like proportions, waiting for their next Big Fashion Moment.
Now, here it is. Designers like London-based LVMH prize-winner Nensi Dojaka, whose viral cut-out dress was Lyst’s 10th most-searched-for item of 2021, plus the likes of Kendall Jenner and Dua Lipa, have all been setting the agenda for a cut-out resurgence one grid post at a time. But it’s this banging look from Alexa that feels cool. Really cool.
It’s a testament to Euphoria’s finger on the ever-changing Gen Z pulse and Maddy Perez’ status as a proper on-screen fashion icon beloved by fans for her strength and eye-rolls, and famed for her glam Y2K co-ords, such as the purple I Am Gia set that went viral last year.
The cut-out LBD speaks to our 2022 mood, too. In an interview with Vogue, Euphoria’s costume designer Heidi Bivens explains how Maddy’s series two style has a darker vibe that reflects her desire for independence and freedom. To be honest, the same could be said for all of us. After two years in and out of lockdown, it’s no coincidence that the cut-out LBD, a club classic, is coming back now. Time for gorgeous, gorgeous girls to throw the trackies in the bin.
Maybe we’re wanting something a little darker, as well. Indie sleaze and 2010’s Tumblr are all tipped for comebacks, fuelled by Gen Z’s nostalgia for the internet trends they were too young to wear the first time around. The rest of us are frankly just feeling a bit emo: stressed out by the Apple News notifications and in need of a party – of the Skins variety. After the wholesomeness of cottagecore and the playfulness of super-flared, fur-lined Bratz get-ups, it’s about time we ushered in a vampier mood for the girly girls (Megan Fox and Kourtney Kardashian are miles ahead).
By design, the cut-out black dress celebrates the body, so here’s hoping this resurgence can embrace those of all shapes – not just the skinny and the hourglass. Optimistic? Maybe. But it’s 2022, and anything could happen.
So, with all that said: Hello again, cut-out black dress. Not sure it’s been long enough to say we missed you, but we’ll welcome you back, anyway.