Cracks Are Back

Photo-Illustration: The Cut; Photos: Getty Images

After a year of stars letting it all hang out, us fans became increasingly desensitized to these acts of public indecency. And, as a result, their outfits stopped reliably generating the headlines they were intended to produce. So, with full-frontal nudity now played out, to drum up the same level of attention they’ve become accustomed to, celebs have gone in search of a fresh take on provocative attire: intentionally flashing some intergluteal cleft.

This year’s butt-cleavage trend began, as most of Hollywood’s best and most scandalous styles always do, with the adult-entertainment industry. At the end of January, adult-film actress Valeria Atreides attended the AVN Awards — the Oscars of porn — wearing a long-sleeved, high-neck gown that looked modest from the front, but featured a back that plunged so low it ended just under her cheeks. And ever since that red-carpet moment, butt crack has never been hotter. During Paris Fashion Week, Noah Cyrus wore a pair of leggings so low cut it made social media think she was in the midst of a wardrobe malfunction. At the beginning of March, the Brit Awards censored musician CMAT’s butt in another low-backed, crack-exposing gown designed by Sophie Lincoln and inspired by a character from the Mr. Bean cartoon. A few days later, Katy Perry attended the Billboard Women in Music Awards wearing an Ellie Misner corset and skirt that laced up over her butt, leaving her black thong fully visible. And, two weeks after that, Chloe Bailey did the same in a Pressiat dress at the GLAAD Media awards. Teyana Taylor was recently spotted clubbing with Leonardo DiCaprio in pants with an upper-glute cutout, while Normani wore a similar Theophilo jumpsuit with a built-in G-string in a February photoshoot. Unsurprisingly, Cardi B’s new music video for “Enough” featured some very ass-centric fashions, as did Megan Thee Stallion’s “Hiss,” in which she wears a pair of pants that not only unbutton in the back, but feature a diamond pendant dangling directly above her cleft. And, most recently, Kanye West’s wife, Bianca Censori, ditched the pretense of pants altogether, stepping out for a date at the Cheesecake Factory with her neon-green tights intentionally pulled halfway down her butt.

But while crack-revealing fashions may be the hot, new trend in Hollywood, this shocking design is actually 30 years old. The “bumster” pant first appeared as part of Alexander McQueen’s debut fall 1993 collection, “Taxi Driver.” The Met’s head curator, Andrew Bolton, said the trousers “caused a sensation” at the time and helped cement McQueen’s “reputation as this provocateur.” But clearly, the public were craving a little provocation because critics and consumers alike couldn’t get enough of the look.

Model wearing bumster pants in 1996 during British fashion designer Alexander McQueen’s first New York fashion show. Photo: Catherine McGann/Getty Images

With this design, McQueen not only kicked off the massive low-rise jean trend of the ’90s and ’00s, but also created a completely new silhouette. A rare and significant accomplishment for any designer, let alone one launching their first collection. Many thought the low-slung look was inspired by “builder’s bum” (or plumber’s crack, as we call it in America), but McQueen told The Guardian in 1996 that it was actually his attempt at demonstrating how the smallest change in the cut of a garment can radically alter the proportions of the body. “I wanted to elongate the body, not just show the bum,” he said. “To me, that part of the body — not so much the buttocks, but the bottom of the spine — that’s the most erotic part of anyone’s body, man or woman.” Customers loved the way the cheek-skimming pants made them look taller, elongating both the legs and the torso. The brand also presciently anticipated this current second coming of the bumster, relaunching the style as part of its spring 2023 show. The pant was once again a commercial success, appealing to both those collectors wishing to own one of the house’s signature silhouettes, as well as a whole new generation of McQueen customers who didn’t get to bare their butt the first time around.

However, at the rate famous people have been cycling through these nearly nude fashion trends, it seems like Hollywood is going to run out of erogenous zones to highlight in the very near future. Thankfully, Maison Margiela sent merkins down the runway.

Cracks Are Back