Talk about rocking the foundations of fashion. Not so long ago, a woman whose slip was showing was guilty of a glaring faux pas; now, slips have slipped out from under entirely, as designers present an array of lingerie styles—from pastel taffeta minis to floor-grazing silk body skimmers with lace insets—that are tailored for total exposure. Already, standard-barers such as Madonna, Courtney Love, Helena Christensen and Halle Berry have shimmied into the slinky creations. "They're not for everybody—you have to have an amazing body," says Richard Tyler, whose filmy fashions have been worn by Julia Roberts, Kim Basinger and Kelly Lynch. "And wherever you wear one, you'll certainly get plenty of attention."
First shown on designers' runways last fall, slips are only the latest undergarment to go public, after bras, corsets and boxer shorts made the jump from inner-to outerwear. As fashion marks its return to femininity, slips represent the ultimate in antigrunge. "Women are no longer fearful of looking like women," says Richard Martin, director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute in New York City. "They are enjoying gender once again." Says Monette Moati, owner of Sabbia Rosa, the posh Paris lingerie shop where Faye Dunaway, Linda Evangelista and Elle Macpherson pick up slips: "Everything was mixed up a few years ago. Now femininity is coming back. Real men like real women. It's about reconquering men."
That's not to say every slip wearer aspires to be a siren a la World War II poster girl Rita Hayworth or Elizabeth Taylor in Butterfield 8. But with most of Seventh Avenue currently focusing on conservative clothes like tailored suits and knee-length skirts, Moati insists that the slinky pieces are the easiest way to go glam these days. After all, she says, "a woman moves around much differently in a slip than she does in a jogging suit."