Fishnet stockings have been always seen in a controversial way, in fashion history and trends it was stereotyped as ‘sexy’, fishnet hosiery has the potential to be seen as provocative. However, the negative connotations of fishnet hosiery betrays its iconic place in fashion history as well as it’s real potential to be part of a chic or even elegant look. First of all, let’s see where the name “fishnet stockings” come from and its meaning. The term ‘fishnet’ pertains to the diamond shaped open knit that remembers the fishermans’s net. The origins of fishnet hosiery is one of fashion’s mysteries. No one can really say the exact point in history when fishnet stockings started being worn or a specific inventor of fishnet stockings either. Although the beginnings of fishnet hosiery in fashion history can be disputed, one cannot dispute that fishnet stockings have stood the test of time and today is back on the fashion scene even more powerful and versatile.
But lets see where we can find them in the history, actually the earliest mention of “fishnet clothing” goes back to one of Aesop’s fables “The peasant’s daughter” where the king challenges the girl to come to him “not clothed, not naked” and she resolves the problem by wrapping herself in an fisherman’s net. Many say the fishnets were worn in the early 1900 by the showgirls of the famous Moulin Rouge, but they become really popular with flappers and showgirls in the 1920’s as hemlines rose (barely below the knee). They where popular due to the fact that from a distance , fish netted legs may look as they are adorned in black ties, but under the bright lights or on the dance floor, dots of skin would show through.
In the 60’s with the rise of the mini skirt, the fishnet became a statement garment for the feminists movement. In the attitude of subverting mainstream fashion, punks and goths of the 70’s took control of the fishnet tights and made them more extreme by ripping more holes, to pass gradually to any netted piece of clothing.
One of the most famous pop singers and fashion icons that used the fishnets and made them became iconic is Madonna in the80’s, and she didn’t limit herself to just stockings, she also rocked it with fishnet tops, gloves and body suits.
Following the wave of this new fashion trend the high fashion designers took this provocative piece and turned it in a mainstream, so the 90’s can be characterized by the transition of the fishnet mania in an elegant and very versatile piece of clothing.
Turning to our days, after some years that the fishnet stockings where forgotten, we could assist at the revival of this garment starting with the most iconic figures in the VIP industry: from Kendal Jenner who paired the fishnets with clear boots, to Sarah Jessica Parker that opted for a white colored hosiery, or Kate Moss that teamed it with a mini dress, and from there everyone else, stylists, bloggers, influencers styled it in the most unusual way: with wrapped jeans, sportive pants pulling the fishnets on the high waist to make it visible ecc. (ways to wear fishnets)
Fishnets hold an unique place in fashion – they conceal and reveal at once. While the black tights are for a more practical use, fishnet stockings eschew utilitarianism and offer up something a bit more paradoxical.
“I think a lot of the meanings we ascribe to fishnets today, that wild, untamed sexiness, a kind of empowered femininity comes from these designers (talking about Jean Paul Gaultier and Vivienne Westwood) and the subcultures that influenced their work.” said Ben-Horin.