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The Sunday Times

Watch out men! Bare chests are back.

By Priya Elan

Attention, guys: breasts are back! Yes, the era of Succession-style turtlenecks is over and it’s time to get your bare chest out for the lad(s)ies. Leading the pack? Timothée Chalamet, who broke the internet when he accessorised a cropped Louis Vuitton jacket with a bare chest (plus a smirk and a necklace) on the recent Oscars red carpet (#freethetimotitties briefly trended). A week later Lenny Kravitz and Jared Leto got theirs out at the Grammys. This, it would appear, was the moment “he-vage” officially made its way back into public consciousness.

If cock-xic masculinity was on the mood board then, their sartorial ancestors from the Sixties, such as Keith Richards, Serge Gainsbourg and Burt Reynolds, would have seen their open shirts as rakish expressions of rock’n’rolled masculinity.

“It sent a postcoital message: ‘Why would I get dressed when I might have sex at any given moment?’ ” Groves says.

In the Seventies the look reached its peak with lizardy lotharios like the actor Peter Wyngarde, plus of course, he-vage poster boy Tony Manero (John Travolta) from Saturday Night Fever. Everything was on 11 with Manero’s look: long collars, budgie smugglers, Farrah Fawcett’s blow-dry and a V that went as deep as the Bee Gees’ falsettos went high. The subtext was glaring and enough was enough.

“By 1977 Travolta’s open shirt and bare chest looked incredibly tacky,” Groves says. “Punk had happened and the only bare chest that was cool was Iggy Pop’s. Tortured, whipped and self-mutilated, it felt much more contemporary than Tony Manero’s pumped-up machismo chest.” Pop (joined by Sid Vicious and the Germs’ Darby Crash) was a semi-ironic expression of a masculinity that was antiestablishment and divided the younger generation from the older one.


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