NEW YORK – Skin was definitely in, but was 2014 all about the big, bold booty or a sheer reveal up top?
On runways, Marc Jacobs sent up-and-comer Kendall Jenner out during February’s New York Fashion Week with nipples clearly visible under a taupe knit top. Christian Siriano closed his show in September with ice blue crystals on a barely there trouser set, nipples on display.
Look no further than awards shows, music videos and magazine covers for fuller rears, compliments of Iggy Azalea, Jennifer Lopez and Nicki Minaj, along with Jenner’s big sis Kim Kardashian and Rihanna, the Council of Fashion Designers of America’s style icon of the year.
Rihanna showed off every inch top to bottom when she collected the award, but curvy newcomer Meghan Trainor said it best in the rear department with her breakout, Grammy nominated hit: “All About that Bass.”
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Where would Instagram be without booty?
Well, nipples gained ground in pilfered nude celebrity selfies, RiRi’s bare, pierced assets on the cover of French magazine Lui and among proud “Free the Nipple” activists, including Scout Willis and Miley Cyrus, who challenged Instagram’s ban. Scout and others flashed and pranced topless in public from New York to Moscow. A film by Lina Esco of the same name turned into a hashtag.
As for the bass, Kardashian loves showing off hers and signed on to help Paper magazine with another body-baring declaration, #breaktheinternet. She did it with the pop of a Champagne cork that arched a stream of bubbly over her head into a glass resting nicely on her derriere for the cover.
But she also advanced the cause of the nipple when she went full-frontal on the magazine’s inside pages, followed soon after by a topless Madonna in Interview.
Why did Kardashian do it? She said on the Australian TV show “The Project” that she loved working with famed photographer Jean-Paul Goude on the Paper shoot and considered it an “art project.”
“It taught me to do what you want to do. Everyone should do what they’re comfortable with, and I’m never one to preach but I felt really positive and really good about myself. I love the photos. I did it for me,” she told host Rove McManus.
Alas, McManus wasn’t able to repeat the glass-balancing trick. “You don’t have as big a butt as I do,” Kardashian noted after she attempted to show him how it’s done.
Backside or bare female breast – either way, it seemed light years from 2004. That’s when the live Super Bowl halftime show on CBS turned into Nipplegate for Janet Jackson, taking over chatter about nudity, leading to a court battle over fines (since overturned) and temporarily derailing her career.
Jackson’s split-second slip included a now-quaint nipple shield under the piece of leather Justin Timberlake ripped off her outfit, either accidentally or on purpose. Today, flaunting one’s pasties is downright passe.
Just ask Cyrus, who rocked a pair as she performed at Paper magazine’s Break the Internet party during Art Basel Miami Beach in celebration of its nakey jaunt with Kardashian.
Fashion darling Alexander Wang did his part in Year of the Flesh. He previewed his new Denim x Alexander line on Instagram with a fully nude but strategically posed model chilling in an easy chair, jeans pulled below the knee.
In Siriano’s case, he was looking to evoke the massive glass sculptures of controversial Australian sculptor Sergio Redegalli. His core customer is more society lady than nipple-baring It girl, but he said in a recent interview the delicate sheer crystal top with pants to match is the most popular of his designs borrowed by stylists for clients and photo projects – often with a lining added.
“Now, you see people are celebrating the body. It’s different. Very different,” he said. “I went there more as an inspirational fantasy, but we’ve had pretty much every publication pull that look for editorial shoots. It’s been done in art for so long and fashion is a form of art.”
The booty has also had a big year for enhancements in the offices of plastic surgeons.
Surgeon Scot Glasberg in New York said techniques on buttock augmentation have greatly improved over the last 10 years, with uncomfortable and unnatural implants replaced by the self-explanatory fat transfer.
“You get a much more natural look,” he said.
In 2014, Glasberg saw an increase of about 10 percent in requests for cosmetic butt enhancement over 2013 among his patients, with about 10,000 done nationwide by members of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.
When compared to breast augmentation, nose jobs and face lifts, the number is small but on the move, he said.
Bodacious backsides and public nudity are, of course, not new.
British psychologist Philip Carr-Gomm, who put out the book “A Brief History of Nakedness” in 2010, goes back to ancient times.
Judeo-Christian sensibilities had the wealthy in opulent all-over gear and the poor raggedly naked, he said. But in a Classical context, from the Greeks and Romans, nudity was a symbol of power and beauty among the gods and goddesses – and politicians.
“Napoleon, for instance, had himself carved naked in that tradition,” Carr-Gomm said by telephone from Lewes, outside London. “The contradictory attitude is there right from the beginning. We want to see it. We don’t want to see it. We hate it. We love it.”
When it comes to 2014, there was definitely skin in the game.
Esco, the filmmaker, actress and “Free the Nipple” activist, based her December movie on true events, when women protesters in search of equality demonstrated tops off around the globe.
“It’s been such a struggle getting the movie out there, because of the title, because of the content,” she bemoaned. “But the nipple has become the Trojan horse to really start a dialogue.”