Mon Armour: A Brief History Of The Chainmail Trend

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Historically, chainmail has only been welcomed in two contexts: the battlefield and the club. While the two settings seem at odds, we suppose there are some lines to be drawn about vitality and strength, but it all feels like quite a stretch. Truthfully, the chainmail we saw in the 2000s, which has undeniably resurfaced again in the 2020s, is far from war-ready. 
While they only entered the fashion sphere in the 2000s, the first instance of chainmail dates back to over eight centuries ago, with its invention credited to the Celts but used across Europe and East Asia for armour. Through television, we’ve mostly come to associate its use throughout the Iron Age and Middle Ages, but eventually, plated armour became the preference for its vitality and simpler manufacturing. 
Many people still use it today for professional purposes, including butchers, woodworkers and even divers (to withstand shark chomps). Of course, the chainmail we know today, that we see slinking down runways, is a little different — not quite designed to be weapon-resistant. In fact, what mostly goes hand-in-hand with the chainmail trend of the 2000s and beyond — is bare skin. 
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Cast your mind back to Paris Hilton’s legendary cowl-neck mini dress and matching choker for her 21st birthday in 2002, so iconic that Kendall Jenner recreated the look for her own 21st in 2016, or the throwback photos of a young Naomi Campbell and Kate Moss duo sporting matching Versace party dresses. Beyoncé’s 'Dangerously In Love' album cover outfit of a dazzling chain top is literally in a museum, Rihanna cemented her fashion icon status when she stunned in that Swarovski crystal-drenched gown at the 2014 CFDA Awards, and it’s safe to say that none of us will be forgetting Zoë Kravitz’s 2021 Saint Laurent Met Gala look anytime soon. Chainmail has never gone astray in fashion.
Recently, throughout Australian Fashion Week, chainmail inspiration flooded the runways. From a glittering one-shoulder gown at Beare Park to a sparse bralette at St Agni and a houndstooth-style link mini dress by Tobias Sangkuhl at the Innovators show, it was a dominant theme during the week. 
You could say that with everything going on in the world, where it feels like we're on the precipice of WWIII, it makes sense that we're incorporating protective armour into our wardrobes. Fashion has always been reflective of the times and this may not be any different. But instead of using it for protection, chainmail trends in clothes and accessories have become a symbol of celebration. You see someone wearing a glitzy chain bra or doting a metallic bag and instinct tells you that they're en route to somewhere noteworthy.
Instead of romanticising the past and all the brutality associated with medieval armoury, we're reclaiming these age-old techniques to tell a different story, one where brazen style becomes the norm, and we don't just squirrel away our partywear for special occasions.
Naked dresses may not be quite office-appropriate but there are ways to get behind the chainmail trend without anyone notifying HR. And with runways setting them up to be the next big thing, we're sure to be seeing plenty more brands take note.
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