Like skirts, tights had unisex beginnings. According to the manufacturing maven Wolford, their most similar predecessor can be traced back to the 16th century where they were first worn by men, but too beloved by women later on (Queen Elizabeth I was reportedly a fan).
Fast forward to modern times and it was designers like Pierre Cardin and Emilio Pucci that formally introduced tights into the fashion lexicon in the ’60s, turning out variations that ranged bright colours, prints and patterns—the perfect pairing for those thigh-grazing Mod-style dresses that dominated the decade. The ’80s rolled around and so did day-glo spandex incarnations, often worn as pants under leotards which fuelled the athleisure trend. Its poster child: fitness guru Jane Fonda. But it was the noughties that gave us both the garment’s worst incarnation (remember the mid-calf version Lindsay Lohan couldn’t get enough of?), and pop culture’s most contemporary representation yet.
Blair Waldorf, Gossip Girl‘s headband-wearing and tights-loving teen dictator left a lasting, preppy impression of how they were worn since the show’s inception in 2007—until designer Marine Serre‘s tech-influenced offering rendered that style reference so 2000 and late.
The French wunderkind, beloved for her deft hand at marrying the unlikely bedfellows of sportswear and couture, serves up her now signature crescent moon tights and skin-tight tops under anything from scuba suits (see above) to cut-and-sew frocks. It’s whipped up in a body-flattering nylon jersey blend, boasts a statement print that doubles up as the brand’s logo, and has the potential to be layered in a multitude of ways. Cue: sell out drops on e-tailers like MatchesFashion.com and Ssense, and an enamoured street style set.
Serre, though most prominent in this graphic reboot, is not alone for Spring/ Summer 2019. Over at Comme des Garçons, a medley of printed tights ranging logos to roses peek through Rei Kawakubo’s judicious cut-outs. At MM6 Maison Margiela, a typography-print pair anchors a deconstructed blazer dress.
Given that the role of a garment has always extended beyond pure functionality—while tights served to temper the short hemlines of dresses in the ’60s for most, Edie Sedgwick parlayed hers into a stylistic calling card—Serre’s take has ultimately become a tell of today’s fashion inner circle. Well, just like how coloured tights spoke of social standing in Gossip Girl‘s make-believe New York City, except Blair Waldorf probably wouldn’t wear these graphic iterations, and Instagram is now the Met Steps where you go to stunt.