Mesh has slipped its way through the past few fashion cycles, and really, hasn’t left in the last three decades. It’s come back as sheer 90’s tattoo sleeves, psychedelic graphics, optical illusions, or renaissance painting prints. It’s a trend that exists in nostalgia, an original piece the sign of a clever vintage shopper, and originates from a special pocket of fashion history. Today, it exists on Instagram as the sort-of lovechild of the avant basics and subversive basics trends, of grungey sheers and funky patterns. Let’s take a look back at the ancestry of the printed mesh top.
Mesh material wasn’t created by a fashion designer, but rather the owner of a British textile mill, named Lewis Halsam. One day in the 1880s, he was out in the cold with his aunt when he noticed her gloves bore several holes, though she insisted her hands kept warm despite this. Halsam consulted medical colleagues and began experimenting with aeration in textile, where warmth is insulated within the warps and wefts of the fabric. Mesh is defined by its interlaced structure of fibers knitted or woven together with open spaces between the yarn, as a flexible, net-like fabric. Mesh can be made from metals as well, though in fashion is typically made from synthetic polyester or nylon.
In 1888 Halsam formed the Aertex Company, an original mesh material that was marketed as hygienic and comfortable in all temperatures. It was first used for men’s shirts and undergarments, and used during World War II in the uniforms of the British Women’s Land Army. In the ’60s, Aertex began manufacturing technical sportswear, where the England football team wore it in their jerseys during the 1970 World Cup. Adidas adopted the Aertex fabric for their clothing in the ’80s, bringing the utility fabric to streetwear and mainstream trends sported by celebs. It wasn’t until Maison Martin Margiela brought mesh to the Paris runway in 1989 that it truly caught fire.
It was Margiela’s first runway show, at Café de la Gare, where he showed his 1989 Spring/Summer collection that’s well-remembered for the trompe l’oeil (optical illusion) tattoo shirt. The motifs on the shirt were taken from an old encyclopedia illustration about tattooed men on the island of Nuku Hiva in French Polynesia, printed on skin-thin net fabric. The mesh was a transparent color and the design printed in dark blue, giving the effect of a real tattoo, like a second skin.
Jean Paul Gaultier, whom Margiela assisted from 1984 to 1987, continued this fabric technique in his Spring/Summer 1994 show. The collection spotlighted the mesh tattoo shirt effect, the design appropriated from Indian and African cultural motifs and symbols. The thin material was styled in layers, under vests or tank dresses, or split in a matching set.
The painting-like, gradient pattern on the mesh is an ancestor to the thin layers by signatured by KNWLS, no?
Gaultier’s Fall/Winter 1995 “Cyber” collection introduced the campy illusion dot-pattern JPG is most recognized for, and kicked off Y2K futurism aesthetics beloved to this day. Taking after Margiela’s mesh, and forwarding his own tattoo body suits, Gaultier used the digitally-designed print on thin fabric as a topical means to contour the body into a shapely form.
Fashion stars like Kim Kardashian, CharliXCX, and Cardi B managed to get their hands on the sexy head-to-toe look iconic of its decade.
Vintage body-con mesh soon became a flex for celebs known for their street style. Kourtney Kardashian and Kendall Jenner were even sharing a vintage top by Gaultier featuring a printed bust of the Venus de Milo sculpture.
Kourtney was also spotted in vintage JPG back in 2017, wearing the Nude Venus Sheer Goddess Dress. More recently, Jenner wore a matching lace-up butterfly print set by the family favorite 90’s designer.
Bella Hadid was also spotted in breathable JPG mesh this summer, in a blue vintage oriental scene sheer mesh top.
And we can’t forget her ultimate JPG serve. She wore Gaultier’s signature vintage “Safe Sex Forever” two-piece for the 2019 Met Gala afterparty.
Designers like KNWLS, Ottolinger, Supriya Lele, and Kim Shui are playing with sexy, psychedelic sheers, using cutouts, color, and graphic prints to shape the body, and styled in layers to create interesting texture.
ASAI’s Hot Wok top, a skin hugging tie-dye patchwork mesh shirt with exposed seams, seemingly went viral IRL amongst street style stars since it debuted in 2019.
The vintage style naturally trended on resale sights as well, as online thrifters flocked to cop an original 90’s mesh. Gaultier-esque brands like Cop Copine, popular for sheer long sleeves and scenic graphics, are in high demand on sites like Depop and eBay, existing as its own microtrend in the vintage market and selling for hundreds a piece. Depop queen Bella Hadid has one, of course.
And what’s a trend if fast fashion doesn’t catch on? The vintage style was reincarnated in the mass market by brands like DollsKill, IAMGIA, and LazyOaf.
The graphic mesh trend will carry into next season, as it’s the perfect layering piece for the transition from summer to fall. The style’s inclination toward moody blues, forest greens, and warm purples, like tattoo shades, sets up the perfect jewel toned palette for the autumn months. Try pairing a light skin-tight turtle neck under your sundress à la JPG 1994, or wear a printed top with pants and layered overcoats like Hadid. The options are limitless with these interesting but effortless pieces. And if you manage to get your hands on an original 90’s gem, hold on to it, because this trend isn’t going anywhere.END
prev link: https://www.crfashionbook.com/fashion/a37221779/trend-sheer-mesh-tattoo-90s/
createdAt:Wed, 04 Aug 2021 15:01:38 +0000
displayType:Long Form Article