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July 01, 2011  | by: LaDawn Penigar-Mitchell

Hermes Spring 2011 Runway Show

The harness has moved from sexually suggestive to fashionably provocative. Bondage and fetish fashion became a trend in the year 2009 as designers tried to evolve sexually charged clothing into an acceptable, appealing look. Originally all about leather, studs and chains, the style has now progressed to include a more chic, elegant vibe.

Rihanna at the Billboard Music Awards in May

Celebrities like Rihanna, Katy Perry, Chloe Sevigny and Beyonce have all been seen sporting the look.  Lady Gaga’s backup dancers were clad in golden harnesses during her performance on the season finale of Saturday Night Live. Hermes showcased daring, equestrian-themed clothing during its spring runway show and featured harnesses in several of the pieces from the collection.

The most basic elements of the harness are a belt over the waist and a strap over the shoulder, but now the look is being explored through new experiments in material and color.

Harnesses are normally considered very masculine, but the risqué accessory is being pushed to look more soft and feminine.

Designers of the trend have expressed their desire to make the harness more subtle and fun to help give the wearer a confident attitude with just a hint of sexuality.

Aqua Jamie Maxi Dress

For those who are brave enough to try the look and mix the edgy and feminine, tank tops, t-shirts and floral dresses are just a few suggestions for wearing with the trend. Also consider leaving the harness open for a less scandalous look. One can purchase separate harnesses online from Topshop or from the websites of locally-based designers across the states who solely craft harnesses. You can also buy tops, dresses, etc. that already have the harness incorporated into the design from big name retailers and designers.

The harness trend has emerged from its shady past into something more refined and classically–inspired. Now the look has been labeled as a luxury trend that is meant to look unique — not outlandish and freaky– while maintaining that element of danger. Still far from mainstream, this style has gained enough exposure to no longer be considered too racy or scandalous for fashion.

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