Editor’s Note: Featuring the good, the bad and the ugly, ‘Look of the Week’ is a regular series dedicated to unpacking the most talked about outfit of the last seven days.
Timothée Chalamet braved London’s icy breeze with white-knuckles and a bare-chest for the premiere of his new movie “Wonka.”
Dressed in a magenta velvet suit from Tom Ford’s Spring-Summer 2024 collection, Chalamet’s torso peaked out from behind the lapels. “It’s a nice chilly night,” he told a red carpet interviewer through somewhat gritted teeth. “I don’t know what the hell I was doing wearing this.”
But Chalamet has long relied on the wow factor of a shirtless suit for red carpet engagements. It began March 2022, when he arrived at the Oscars in a black embellished Louis Vuitton blazer cropped at the waist and trimmed with lace. The Prince-coded look was defined by the actor’s shirtlessness. “Timothée Chalamet just rewrote the Oscars dress code,” lauded W Magazine.
Then again in September 2022, he made waves at the Venice Film Festival while promoting Luca Guagandino’s cannibal romance “Bones And All” — only this time he flashed his back and kept the chest covered. The metallic red set came from Haider Ackerman and featured a daring backless — and sleeveless — flowing shirt. Held together by a halter-neck and finished with ‘70s neck-tie, the outfit borrowed heavily from the androgynous, glam rock jumpsuits of yore.
He even donned his favorite outfit formula for a separate “Wonka” photocall held on Monday in London. Shoulder-to-shoulder with Hugh Grant, Rowan Aktinson (two British actors decidedly more clothed for the gloomy weather) and Olivia Coleman, Chalamet’s bare chest was delicately framed inside a double-breasted Alexander McQueen pinstripe suit.
But Chalamet is not the only celebrity pioneering shirtlessness. Lil Nas X, Jonah Hill, Donald Glover, Jay-Z and Harry Styles have all been seen torso-first in the last few years. Dior, Dries Van Noten, Thom Browne, Paul Smith and Zegna have similarly sent shirtless suits down the runway, and earlier this year men’s luxury retailer Mr. Porter published a style guide on how to “go commando” — as they dubbed the look — under a suit.
Unsurprisingly, the exposing trend has links to subversive designers such as Jean Paul Gaultier, Vivienne Westwood and Raf Simons. It can be erotic or subversive — as demonstrated by Westwood’s 1981 “Pirate” show, where several male models were sent down the catwalk in billowing open frock coats and petticoat breeches. In Gaultier’s infamous Spring-Summer 1996 collection, titled “Pin-Up Boys,” the shirtless suit was gauche, cheesy and even funny. Models wore high-shine tuxedos in electric blue or hot pink and matching bow ties, reminiscent of a Chippendales dancer.
“Going shirtless under a suit is about playing around with formal dress codes in a way that looks like you’re making a statement,” suggests Mr. Porter. But when does a statement turn into a signature? For Chalamet, shirtlessness is fast becoming a state of mind.
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