Sometimes, body parts become the unlikely stars of the red carpet. A decade ago, it was “Angelina’s leg” that went viral at the Oscars; this year it’s the turn of the neck. Yes, you read that correctly. It’s the neck’s time to shine.
As red carpets flicker back into awareness post-Covid, there’s something apt about a body part as random as the neck having time in the spotlight. It fits well with the awoken-from-a-daze feeling most of us have as we sleepwalk back to normal life.
At the Baftas on Sunday night, the neck was encased in various polo necks, shirts and dresses. It was accompanied by the heads of How to Get Away With Murder’s Elliot Knight, The Witcher’s Emma Appleton, Daniel Kaluuya, Cyrano’s costume designer Massimo Cantini Parrini and star of Belfast Caitríona Balfe.
It’s the latest part of a “come hither” trend taking over on social media recently, but where tummies, derrieres, cleavage and bits of collar bones have been revealed and then withdrawn under outfits that look as if they could be blown away by a strong gust of wind. And yes I know “sexy neck” is about as appealing as it sounds, but it’s part of the so-called “vibe shift”: slipping out of the arid, sexless, Covid-era sadwear into the reckless roaring 20s (this was what hot vax summer was supposed to be but sadly didn’t materialise).
The peek-a-boo neck could not be more of a now trend. From tech bros to scammers and international spies, disgraced MPs to pop-art icons, there’s something wickedly shh-shh about the whole look. It’s one part James Bond and two parts Milk Tray man: it’s a look that screams “hidden agenda!” through cutesy tucks and turns.
Pop culture is positively drowning in polo necks, whose depth of tuck reveals how much (or little) of the neck we actually see. We’ve had Amanda Seyfried in The Dropout, as Silicon Valley grifter Elizabeth Holmes. Holmes wore a black Issey Miyake polo neck as she attempted to cosplay at the gravitas of Steve Jobs while fooling the world out of millions of dollars; Paul McCartney wore one in Beatles’ doc Get Back, attempting to marshal his band into shape without too much “bad dad” energy and Andy Warhol is currently sporting one for his return as an AI robot in Netflix’s The Andy Warhol Diaries.
In fact, there’s a definite question mark over whether you should trust someone wearing a polo neck. That Matt Hancock has recently taken to wearing one says it all really.