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Bondage is the New Black

From Kim Kardashian to Evan Mock, bondage-style outfits have taken over the red carpet. So, why has this niche way of dressing re-entered mainstream fashion?


Credit: The Sun.

Since Madonna first graced the stage in a latex and leather bustier dress in the 1980s, bondage has become fair game in the fashion industry. However, in recent years, fashion has trended more toward floral prints, colorful palettes, and softer hues, with longer hemlines, puffy sleeves, and youthful prints becoming wardrobe staples. Additionally, athleisure has become one of the largest and fastest growing areas of the market, largely thanks to the pandemic. Matching, mostly monochromatic sets have seemingly taken over, with different variations—cotton, cashmere, and silk—being shown by everyone, from Shein to Ralph Lauren. As such, it’s surprising to see many celebrities shunning the crossover between 60’s flowerchild and 90’s grunge that was projected to dominate this season. Instead, they’ve edged—literally—toward darker, harsher silhouettes and color palettes reminiscent of the 80’s, but with a distinctly BDSM flair.


So, is this just a rebellion against the pattern of leisure dressing we’ve fallen into, or is it a trend Vogue didn’t see coming?


After the Met Gala on Monday, I believe that bondage is here to stay. And, though it’s bizarre and slightly unnerving, its use of leather and latex makes for an effortlessly monochromatic, mysterious, and undeniably chic statement that blurs the lines between fashion, art, and self-expression.


Take Kim Kardashian, for example. If you follow Kim—and I’m assuming most of you reading this do—you’ve likely noticed a visible shift in her Instagram content, swapping what must now be a passé trend of posting disposable photos for pictures of her in head-to-toe black looks—most of which have been designed by Balenciaga or Demna Gvasalia—touring around what appears to be stadium basements for Kanye’s Donda listening parties. And, while I have no idea what’s prompted Kim to suddenly dress like a dominatrix—in front of her children, mind you—her posts have received upwards of 3 million likes a piece, with comments deeming her outfits “epic,” “incredible,” and “jaw-dropping.” This means that people aren’t just observing Kim’s cataclysmic change, but that they approve of the polarizing looks she’s putting together.


Kim Kardashian at a Donda listening party with her children. Credit: People.

At the Met Gala, Kim did it again, going for what I would deem a “light bondage” look. Showing up with Balenciaga’s Demna Gvasalia, who wore a nearly identical outfit, Kim strutted the carpet in a head-to-toe morphsuit that covered everything but her sleek, long ponytail draping down her back. Sure, it wasn’t the all-leather, slits-for-eyes ensemble she went out shopping in the day before, but it made a similarly dominant statement—pun intended.


Kim in a full bondage look in NYC before the Met Gala. Credit: E Online.

Kim wasn’t the only one to go for a BDSM-inspired look on the cream carpet. Evan Mock, Megan Fox, and Timothée Chalamet all went for BDSM-inspired looks. At the VMAs, Kourtney Kardashian, Kim Petras, Doja Cat, and Madison Beer also went for looks with a bondage flair. looks that pushed the boundaries between formal dressing and bondage, proving that fetish dressing is only just getting started.


From left to right: Evan Mock, Megan Fox, Kourtney Kardashian and Travis Barker, and Doja Cat. Credits: Popsugar Fashion, Cosmopolitan, Entertainment Tonight, Red Carpet Awards.


Going into this fall, I expect the trend toward monochromatic sets and neutral, complementary colors to continue. However, I also expect biker chains, leather accents, unconventional straps, and rockstuds to make a comeback, as the fashion-forward look to spice up their day-to-day dressing by pushing the boundaries between everyday chic and after-hours attire. If there was ever a sign to buy those straight-leg leather pants you saw on the sale rack, or to invest in a chain or collar necklace, this is it. So, break out that leather—or faux leather—skirt, take your biker jacket for a spin, and don’t be afraid of a PVC dress. Bondage is back, and it’s socially acceptable once more.


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