How low would you dare to go? Some like their trousers so high-waisted that they double-up as boob-cupping-corsets; others opt for a mid-rise option, where belly buttons peak over the waistline like a sunset melting into the horizon.
There is, however, one style of trouser whose name we dare not speak of. The shape that we have collectively barred from ever resurfacing, it’s caused a war between millennials and Gen Z’ers: the low rise.
Not only is the low rise attempting to slide back into our lives again, this time it’s back with a vengeance. It’s made a shock return from its sabbatical and has lost three inches from its waist. The new low rise sits lower than ever. Lower than Keira Knightley’s cropped capris, lower than Paris Hilton’s mini skirts and Xtina’s chaps, even lower than Flo Rida’s ‘apple bottom jeans’. This waistline has worked its way all the way down to the pubic bone.
It reveals the hips completely: with a flash of pubic hair in the front (...or not) and a glimmer of buttock in the back. If anyone is still privately partial to a vajazzle, these trousers would reveal all. Unfortunately (fortunately?), vajazzles haven’t yet made it to Parisian catwalk shows, but genital-grazing trousers certainly have.
Just over a month ago Nigerian-born London-based fashion designer, Mowalola made her comeback after a three-year hiatus with a collection shown during Paris Fashion Week Mens. She received a standing ovation for the big return, titled ‘Burglarwear’ the clothes included balaclavas, crucifixes and - lo and behold - her own version of the ultra-low rise trouser.
Two weeks later, Daniel Roseberry showed his AW22 Schiaparelli Couture collection. Celebrating the opening of ‘Shocking! The Surreal World of Elsa Schiaparelli’ exhibition in Paris, the show heavily featured elements of surrealism and trompe l’oeil - visual illusions, or quite literally, ‘tricks of the eye’.
It makes sense then, that Roseberry would opt for a waistline that deceives onlookers. The deep-set V shape in the front of the trousers conceals the hips but flatteringly dip down towards the pelvic region. They look as if a steamy, invisible thumb is pulling down on the waistband.
It would be impossible to write this article without mentioning the most famous pubic-grazers of them all, the master of harnessing both power and sex appeal, orginator and creator of the ‘Bumster’, Alexander McQueen. The Bumster first appeared in trouser form on the catwalk in 1994 as part of McQueen’s SS94 ‘Nihilism’ collection, with further interpretations showing up in his collections throughout the 90s, including skirt and dress versions too.
McQueen was often referred to as the ‘yob’ of the fashion industry and is said to have been inspired by builder’s bums.
In 1996, journalist Tamsin Blanchard selected a pair of red McQueen Bumsters to win the prestigious ‘Dress of the Year’ award at Bath’s Fashion Museum. Nowadays, the cheek-revealing trousers sell at auction for £3500.
Mugler, Gaultier, Moschino and BodyMap have all shown variations of bottoms that show… bottom, mostly by way of cut-outs such as Mugler’s infamous heart-shaped keyhole. In 2001 Gillian Anderson walked so Rihanna could run; wearing a scandalous thong-revealing Eduardo Lucero gown to the Vanity Fair Oscar party. Thirteen years later, Rihanna would accept her Fashion Icon award at the 2014 CFDAs wearing the Swarovski ‘naked dress’, revealing…well, everything.
The latest celeb brave enough to pioneer the trend? It takes buckets of confidence and she’s got an ocean-full, queen of chaos Julia Fox has been stepping out recently wearing… her own creations. She’s taken to TikTok to show her design process - predominantly tearing up denim - but has won the hearts of Gen Z, who have crowned her a modern fashion icon. It’s very possible that her super-low rise designs were a mistake, either way, she doesn’t care (and looks good). Similar variations at Diesel may also have influenced her styling choices.
Within the FashionTok-sphere, some influencers are customizing their high rises by deliberately folding over the tops of the trousers. Creating an ultra-low waist by rolling down their waistbands as far as their rears will allow. This is becoming increasingly popular with old school brands like Dickies, whilst highstreet shops such as Weekday have started selling specifically cut V-shaped jeans that sit very high on the hips and very low in the front.
Slowly, it seems buttock-baring bottoms are being seen off of the catwalk as well as on it. If Julia Fox is doing it, should we be doing it too? This may be a trend that even Julia has trouble persuading some of, whilst others merrily embrace the butt. It’s true, we are terrified of the low rise, but does the super low rise hold the same weight? At least for now, we can pass off our accidental builder’s bum as high fashion.