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ELLE’s Fashion Director on how to own the new sexy

By Malini Banerji  May 14th, 2014

“There is a real vulgarity in the way women dress at the moment. They show off too much and try too hard. They don’t understand where the line is between sexy and vulgar. I know where that line is,” claims Roberto Cavalli, and I agree. I’m happy to report that Spring/Summer 2014 is bringing sexy back – only this time, it’s not quite what you might expect. A tantalising hip is exposed through strategically cut-out fabric, a slit reveals just enough leg and necklines go deep but not scandalous.


Nikhil Thampi, Shivan & Narresh


Who said slits were restricted to the hemline of a skirt or dress? Designers decided to make cuts everywhere unexpected. At Dior, Raf Simons took the discreet approach (as always), and snipped a skirt at the hip – an exposed lower waist rises and subsides with every step. Super sexy. Christopher Kane created innuendo with florals: petal-shaped gaps with metal borders give modest silhouettes a seductive edge; while Versace’s graphic cuts draw attention to the breastbone and midriff. Closer to home, Shivan & Narresh’s black number (a favourite with celebrities like Freida Pinto and Lisa Haydon) featured a dangerously low cut-out at the hip, and Nikhil Thampi’s lady-like red dress with rebellious side cuts is daring yet demure.

Plunging necklines

Rohit Gandhi + Rahul Khanna, Altuzarra

Slashed hems and plunging necklines

Show flashes of leg with Lanvin’s maxi dresses, which are slashed from toe to hip, or get naughty in a shimmering metallic gown by Rohit Gandhi + Rahul Khanna. Or, if you want a dose of classic sexy, opt for the Altuzarra look, with both a long slit and a deep V at the neckline achieved through clever unbuttoning.


Balenciaga, Kenzo

Exposed midriffs

Blessed are the ones with a flat tummy, for theirs is the joy of the crop top. So unless you’ve been a regular at the gym, steer clear of the trend. If you’ve worked hard enough to wear it though, choose from Dolce & Gabbana, Proenza Shouler and DKNY; for sophisticated, sleek cuts or, if you’re one to indulge in sporty-sexy, go the Balenciaga (structured woven crop top paired with curved, hem shorts) or Kenzo (bandeau with boyish, baggy pants) route.

Photographs: Imaxtree.Com/Alessandro Lucioni (Runway)