Low-rise trousers: how low will ya go?
Head to head: Julia Fox, our favourite mover and shaker, went dangerously low over the weekend in a pair of Liza Keane’s. Debate sparked and the world stopped spinning. But isn’t that the whole point?
I’ve seen Julia Fox in extremely low-rise trousers.
Well, they were low. Very low.
Yes. Yes they were.
What’s that all about?
While technically around since the ’60s (see: Jim Morrison), low-rise trousers were put on the map by Alexander McQueen in the ’90s, who presented “bumster” trousers in his earliest shows like Taxi Driver (AW93), Highland Rape (AW95) and Dante (AW96).
Yeah – really low trousers cut just below the top of the bum, showing a little crack and accentuating the wearer’s torso. During the arrival of the bumster, McQueen rationalised the super-low waist: “It wasn’t about showing the bum, I wanted to elongate the body, not just the bum,” he told The Guardian in 1996. “To me, that part of the body – not so much the buttocks, but the bottom of the spine – that’s the most erotic part of anyone’s body, man or woman.”
So it was all about sex?
McQueen often subverted the female form to create new versions of sexy – or not sexy at all – that didn’t subscribe to the male gaze, but rather opted to present women as strong, warrior-like figures who could smack you across the face if it came to it. In the mid-to-late ’90s, Tom Ford also debuted low-rise trousers as creative director for Gucci, often flared, highly sexual and showing a bit of G‑string.
What happened to the bumster, then?
Following McQueen, and thanks to the pop culture boom of the early-’00s, low-rise trousers grew in popularity. It was the ultimate hedonistic statement for fresh-faced celebs like Britney Spears, Paris Hilton and Christina Aguilera – all spearheads of the excessive, more-is-more style of the era. A major low-point (but actually high) was Keira Knightley on the red carpet for the Pirates of the Caribbean premiere in 2003.
Blimey, they were low. Then what?
Then, like most bygone trends, they got swallowed up, digested and hung around in the stomach until the next resurgence. We’ve had tiny sunglasses, slogan T‑shirts, Fendi baguettes, skirts over trousers, the mini skirt…
Ah, yes. The be–
–beige micro mini skirt by Miu Miu? Exactly. Miuccia Prada sent an army of low-slingers down the runway for the house’s SS22 collection in October last year, including tailored trousers and longer skirts, too. Blumarine, who have gone all-out party girl for their most recent collections, also went low in pink trousers, jeans and floaty knee-length skirts.
And now Julia Fox…
Yep. In the past year, she did a food shop in her underwear, brought new meaning to a smoky eye and wore shoes so high they’d make a sky-scraper wince. Should you be surprised she’s taking low-risers down a notch or five?
Exactly. Daring, bonkers, brilliant and very, very low, Fox is even supporting emerging talent – this time Liza Keane, who showed a rip-roaring final collection for her MA Fashion course at Central Saint Martins, full of references to psychiatry and French philosophers.
If history has told us anything, the low-rise, or extreme low-rise, is rebellious, naughty, a little mad, and an anti-sex version of sexy. If that makes sense. Wear if you dare.
I reckon I’ll give ’em a go, then.