How Sex Came Back Into Fashion

The night sex came back into fashion began with an invitation in a black leather envelope to a catwalk show in a former monastery. It was a sultry evening in Paris last September, and the sun was setting behind the iconic YSL initials, picked out in neon, as the new designer at the storied house of Yves Saint Laurent, Anthony Vaccarello, unveiled his debut.


The look was Robert Palmer's Addicted To Love video meets young-Kardashian on a date night, spiked with a twist of Helmut Newton. Long legs in high heels, oversized earrings grazing bare oiled shoulders, boned velvet corsets and sheer black lace. And then - just in case the message wasn't getting across - Binx Walton strode the catwalk resplendent in a black leather mini dress, cutaway to reveal one glittery silver nipple pasty.

Antonio Berardi, whose dresses are loved by Gwyneth Paltrow, Blake Lively and a league of loyal clients for their killer combo of knockout sex appeal and silky sophistication, believes that seduction will never go out of style. "Never. Sex and clothing fundamentally go hand in hand. Every man and woman dresses to impress, whether it be the other sex, same sex or both," he says. From American Apparel to Calvin Klein, from Sophie Dahl for Opium fragrance to Gucci's infamous logoed pubis, the briefest history of fashion advertising confirms sex as a fashion perennial - as does the view of Natalie Kingham, buying director of Matches. "If we ever see sexy clothes, we do buy into them," she says. Sex sells.

After the high-octane vibrations of fashion week and the street style circus, I find that this is when the shifts in silhouette and mood percolate through into what I will wear to the office, or on a regular Saturday. Tellingly, one of my first post-shows purchases this autumn was a pair of Stuart Weitzman plush grey suede over the knee boots. Call it the spirit of Saint Laurent, but after checking out these boots on other women for months, I came home from Paris Fashion Week emboldened to buy a pair. And yes - to answer everyone's first question - I wear them to work.