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The return of the chainmail

From Versace's Oroton to Gucci's Love Parade, dresses with metallic finishes are the perfect trend for upcoming party looks

The return of the chainmail  From Versace's Oroton to Gucci's Love Parade, dresses with metallic finishes are the perfect trend for upcoming party looks

Naomi Campbell and Kate Moss sparkling in two silver slip dresses having fun at Diamonds are forever the event is a charity gala held by De Beers and Versace in 1999. Linda Evangelista hand in hand with boyfriend Kyle MacLachlan catching the paparazzi in a see-through metallic mesh sheath dress. Paris Hilton and Kendall Jenner shining like diamonds in the outfit chosen to celebrate their birthdays. Brigitte Bardot and Françoise Hardy, golden it-girls of the Space Age era. Dua Lipa tongue-in-cheek for an Instagram post in a top and skirt outfit in metallic tones. All of these different images have one thing in common. No, not the obvious coolness of iconic women. Or at least not just that. What connects them is fashion, the unique and edgy new interpretation of the chainmail.

Most of us instinctively associate this material with medieval knights, the heroes of the Round Table, the iconic Joan of Arc or the protagonists of TV series like Merlin and Vikings, strong and invincible warriors who used chain mail to protect themselves from enemy blows. And he's not wrong because, after certain popularity in the Middle Ages, chainmail ended up in oblivion to return between the late 1800s and early 1900s, declined in the form of bags by Whiting and Davis, a brand that provided accessories to all the Hollywood divas and can also boast a collaboration with Elsa Schiaparelli. However, the first creative to make it really cool was Paco Rabanne between the mid and late '60s, introducing it among the many experimental materials that characterized (and still distinguish) his futuristic outfits. 

Although among those who have used it there have been big names like John Galliano or Alexander McQueen, it was Gianni Versace who helped to bring it out of an experimental territory linked to the Space Age. In 1982 the iconic designer, with the help of Friedrich Münch's atelier managed to make chainmail almost liquid, soft, light and malleable like silk.  Versace brought to the runway a series of dresses in fine wire mesh called Oroton. This material, capable of giving life to beautiful, draped and sensual creations, has become one of Maison's trademarks, worn by the most beautiful and coolest women in the world. 

In 2021, chainmail is back in the spotlight, reintroduced by designers to give a touch of glamour to our wardrobe, after the cozy and boring outfits that dominated the long period of pandemic and lockdown. The models proposed for FW21 are perfect as a party dress to show off on New Year's Eve, but also for any special occasion in 2022. The coolest and most Instagrammable is definitely the one worn by Mica Argañaraz at the Coperni fashion show; while the most daring, coupled with a silver make-up that covered part of the model's body, is the metallic tunic by Salvatore Ferragamo, so retro-futuristic that it seems to have come out of a scene from Fritz Lang's Metropolis. Each brand reinterprets Versace's Oroton according to its own style, playing with medieval, Studio 54 or roaring 20s inspirations as Alessandro Michele did for Gucci Love Parade and Nicolas Ghesquière did for Louis Vuitton. There are even those who, like COS, have reinterpreted it in a sparkling tricot key. For an even more special effect, why not exaggerate by adding accessories with sequins and metallic details, as well as sidereal make-up and sparkling nail art.