Formalwear generally follows the same trajectory to separate itself from lesser-wear: sparkles, satin, and, of late, slits. It’s the perfect way to subvert the red carpet mandate of floor-grazing hems , and, like their backless or low-cut counterparts, slit dresses coyly tease with just enough skin to push the envelope without veering into inappropriate.
The latest to embrace the trend is Beyoncé, who has been on an international tour with The Lion King premieres. Despite showcasing a range of very different looks, each had something in common: a flash of leg. From New York to London, Queen Bey had a limb freed for every occasion. It may be a generally well-followed rule that a slit should not rise above the thigh, but hey, rules were meant to be broken.
Many celebrities have oft-risked wardrobe malfunction to make a statement, and high slit remain one of the most-daring maneuvers. Of all the events Hollywood has to offer, the Vanity Fair Oscar party is among those that continues to deliver the most extravagant, and often, extreme looks from attendees. Show up and show out seems to be the name of the game, and Kendall Jenner proved she wasn’t going to do anything less.
The waist-high slits were reminiscent of another style from another time — the start of time, in fact. Enter: the loincloth look. Jenner herself first revived the style with her dreamy Fausto Puglisi gown at the 2014 Much Music Awards, and she remains the only star in recent memory to repeatedly don a loincloth-cut.
Another of the most memorable hip-baring dresses was exhibited during Bella Hadid’s debut at Cannes in 2016, where the model’s red satin Alexandre Vauthier made for endless headlines.
Iconically, she doubled-down for her next Cannes appearance, donning a René Caovilla crystal-embellished sheer dress with a thigh split that seemed to never end. It was near Internet-breaking, and a look that has yet to come close to replication since.
And how could we forget the original? Angelina Jolie’s 2012 Oscars number was instantly catapulted to cult status the minute she stepped in front of cameras—the solo leg protruding from her voluminous black gown earning a full photoshoot in its own right on Getty.
A head-turning look also came via model Iskra Lawrence at the 2018 SAG awards, during which she walked the red carpet in an asymmetrical black dress with a split that exposed her hip and beyond. The body positivity activist rammed home the fact you don’t have to be a size zero to pull off a hyper-revealing number, and honestly we’re sold.
Perhaps the most-impressive was Chrissy Tiegan’s 2016 AMA gown (for which she later apologized when it did, in fact, expose her naked nether regions). With a split that ran up to her ribs — held together tenuously by a sole safety pin — she sent shock waves around the world, and set the bar (literally) high for any future attempts at the split.
In essence: go high or go home, everybody.