Our 'private' parts are called that for a reason
Celebrities like Jennifer Lopez and Angelina Jolie have turned outrageous skin baring into an art form, writes Sophie Donaldson
Hollywood has a new erogenous zone, somewhere in the Bermuda Triangle of groin, thigh and hip bone. Starlets are striding down red carpets in dresses with slits so high the crease between the leg and lady parts is defiantly on display.
It's a trend that has been quietly simmering for the past four years and has now finally peaked. Suddenly, hardly a red carpet goes by without somebody's labia threatening to escape.
Back in 2012, we were giddy at the sight of Angelina Jolie's right leg thrust out from the split of her Atelier Versace gown as she walked the Oscars' red carpet. She had us up in arms, or legs rather, with a flash of flesh that now seems downright prudish.
Three months later the furore around Angelina's milky limb had just about waned when Anna Wintour threw her take on the Oscars, the annual Met Gala. It was attended by a choice selection of A-listers along with the industry's most high-profile personalities. Among them was Anja Rubik, a Polish model whose name you probably don't know but who has worked prolifically for the past decade.
She is also one half of the duo we can thank for getting us intimately acquainted with a rake of Hollywood pelvises.
The other half is Anthony Vaccarello, a 34-year-old designer who has recently been made creative director at Yves Saint Laurent.
Back in 2012, he was busy garnering critical acclaim for his particular brand of sex appeal. Consider him the Grand Master Slash of the fashion world; seams are ripped open, bodices laid bare, cleavage is plunging and hipbones, groins and thighs are thrust centre-stage.
Rubik stepped out in a signature Vaccarello gown that, if you ask me, was the dress that started it all. The ivory silk draped around her statuesque frame, one slit running across her chest, the other up her leg finishing nearly at her waist.
With hipbones as chiselled as her cheekbones, it was clear why she was crowned his official muse in 2011. Her physique, coupled with his razor-sharp aesthetic suddenly had every A-lister scrambling for a dress that had been sent through the shredder.
In Harper's Bazaar March issue of that year, the impossibly toned Gwyneth Paltrow paraded across the pages in a Vaccarello gown that was slashed from shoulder to bust, then again across the torso and finally up one leg to the hipbone.
The following year, Jennifer Lopez wore a thigh-skimming Vaccarello gown to the Grammys. At the 2013 Met Gala, supermodel Gisele's Vaccarello featured a see-through chainmail panel that ran from thigh to torso. In 2014, Kendall Jenner attended Canada's MMVAs in a Fausto Puglisi gown slit up both legs nearly to her belly button. Jenner's daring double-slit prompted the question that has been uttered by every best-dressed panel since - is she, or is she not, wearing knickers?
It was the same question we asked when Bella Hadid strode down the Cannes red carpet in an Alexandre Vauthier gown that snaked along her underwear line, her modesty apparently protected by a built-in bodysuit.
At September's Venice Film Festival, Italian models Giulia Salemi and Dayane Mello each wore a gown cut so close to the groin their pelvic bones were like caped crusaders, threatening to disrobe at any moment.
And last week, Chrissy Teigen took to the red carpet at the American Music Awards in a Yousef Akbar gown that came so close to exposing her nethers she publicly thanked her laser hair removalist along with her stylist and makeup artist.
As the Vaccarello effect takes hold, I fear we will soon be staring into the depths of somebody's belly button, making small talk with their fallopian tubes.
Legs are fabulous, and cleavage has its obvious appeal. But our groins?
Call me old fashioned, but the female groin is a sacred thing. I'm not talking about a pious vehicle for ferrying out newborns, I'm talking about the powerful, musky mystery that sits between our legs that houses our biological bits capable of extreme measures of pleasure and pain.
To call our groins our private parts may seem childish, but in these drastic times, there could be no more appropriate title. As A-listers show no signs of covering up, this trend shows no sign of abating. With the Oscars looming next February, there's every possibility somebody will take things one step further, barging past the final frontier by going full frontal.
Suddenly, a Vaccarello gown will be rendered prim, Rubik a chaste dairymaid, and Angelina's right leg will never have looked so wholesome.