For a while, Nicki Minaj has had a comparatively reserved sense of style compared with some of her older, flashy tactics. But following a bit of industry drama recently, the female MC took to Paris Fashion Week in a series of gag inducing looks. The latest? A breast exposing top from Mugler at Haider Ackermann.
Though the sophisticated, yet still sexy British designer David Koma is currently reigning over the Mugler brand, Minaj went for the designs of his predecessor: Nicola Formichetti. You know him: His over-the-top, paparazzi-baiting styling was brought to international attention during his time working with Lady Gaga, an approach that morphed into a role heading up Mugler. In fact, the boob-baring look that Minaj ended up wearing in the front row at the Ackermann show this season came from the designer’s Fall 2011 collection, which was only one season after Gaga took to the Mugler runway to perform midshow. But while Formichetti tamed the design with a sculptural nude bra, Minaj went with a simple purple pasty by Agent Provocateur, shorts by Givenchy and shades by Veronique Leroy. The moment brought so many others to mind.
Noted fashion critic Alexander Fury pointed to the controversial Super Bowl moment between Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake. In that instance, in what was widely reported as a malfunction, Timberlake snatched off a portion of Jackson’s look but surprisingly rendered her half topless, a piercing glinting beneath the stadium lights. But there were more decidedly purposeful moments.
In 2013, Miley Cyrus turned up for Halloween in an all pink pantsuit version of the look. Directly channeling Lil’ Kim, the star exposed an underboob tat, wore a wig of the same hue and got congratulations from Queen Bee herself. Kim’s wearing of the look — in purple, designed by her stylist Misa Hylton-Brim — happened way back in 1999 at the MTV Music Video Awards.
When the star made it to the stage, the look with its seashell shaped pasty caught so much attention that Diana Ross reached over to touch the exposed breast. But there’s more.
The house that’s undoubtedly most connected with the mono-boob, as some call it is Saint Laurent. The brand first debuted their version of the look in the Spring 1990 collection itself. There he did a one shouldered, draped toga gown with a breast exposed. Hedi Slimane followed those footsteps, putting a nipple baring look in his Fall 2015 showcase. Just last year Anthony Vaccarello redid the look for the brand as a part of his Spring 2017 debut, putting Binx Walton on the runway and glittering up her nipple.
Last July, a swimwear brand brought the look to the runway in a different form. Luxury swimwear brand Lee & Lani channeled the look as a women’s empowerment moment down in South Beach.
For their final model, the label asked Gabi Fulton to make #FreeTheNipple a runway moment in an attempt to desexualize the female form. That high-waisted black look got quite the response on social media.
But one designer preceded all of that in a monumental moment for American fashion. By all accounts, 1973’s Battle at Versailles was a turning point for the fashion world wherein the United States began to be taken seriously for its design talent and relevancy in the space. In a story retold in Made2Measure’s Battle at Versailles movie as well as a book of the same name, five American designers and five French designers went head to head in back-to-back shows. Of the notable looks? One Halston look made an entry as one of the first from the trend. Model Alva Chinn took to the runway on that grade stage in a black look, too, with her breast out.
Nicki Minaj’s outfit may not be an homage to any of these other looks, but it’s safe to say she’s not alone in baring it all for fashion.