Black tights are a cursed item for many. They evoke memories of sensible school uniforms or fusty dress codes, develop ladders at inopportune moments or gradually slip down thanks to inadequate elastic – an issue Adele highlighted recently, revealing mid-performance that, underneath her black Louis Vuitton gown, her tights had become “baggy in the crotch”.

This season, with the return of the miniskirt, designers have set about reinventing the drab hosiery into something more desirable. On Givenchy’s spring/summer runway, thick matt black tights were contrasted with sheer, ribbed racer-neck dresses. Saint Laurent styled glossy black nylons with tailored blazer-dresses, while barely there sheer tights were paired with simple black V-neck dresses as part of a collection of sultry eveningwear. At the recent couture shows, too, Valentino paired ball gowns with simple black stockings.

For Saint Laurent’s SS22 collection, the house’s creative director Anthony Vaccarello paired glossy nylons with blazer-dresses
For Saint Laurent’s SS22 collection, the house’s creative director Anthony Vaccarello paired glossy nylons with blazer-dresses
At Givenchy SS22, thick black tights were styled against sheer ribbed dresses
At Givenchy SS22, thick black tights were styled against sheer ribbed dresses

“The resurgence of black tights ties in flawlessly with the overarching theme of the season – an undeniable return to sex and glamour,” says Browns head of womenswear buying Heather Gramston, noting that the lingerie category as a whole has grown in popularity in recent months.

‘Spider-Man’ star Zendaya in an Alexander McQueen jacket and crystal-embellished tights
‘Spider-Man’ star Zendaya in an Alexander McQueen jacket and crystal-embellished tights

For styling, Gramston advises “sheer hosiery teamed with a Nensi Dojaka micro-mini and a chic Saint Laurent sandal”. Or simply wear nylons peeping out from under a coat: Tracee Ellis Ross opted for a black polka-dot pair with a sharp blazer-dress recently, while Zendaya dazzled in McQueen’s crystal-embellished tights and a grey boxy suit jacket on the red carpet for the latest Marvel release. “The celebrity favourite is our glamorous and shiny Neon 40 tights,” reveals Silvia Azzali, COO at Wolford – where sales of hosiery rose by 94 per cent at the end of last year.

Nensi Dojaka’s SS22 tights feature a cut-out on the thigh with a floral appliqué design
Nensi Dojaka’s SS22 tights feature a cut-out on the thigh with a floral appliqué design
‘It’s about playing with the idea of naked dressing while still covering up,’ says London-based Dojaka says of her tights this season
‘It’s about playing with the idea of naked dressing while still covering up,’ says London-based Dojaka says of her tights this season © IMAXtree

London-based Dojaka has been thinking about legwear for the past few years, “and the fit of them is being perfected every season”. In one collection she exposed the seams on her mesh tights, ruching and tying them on the outside of the knee, creating an effect closer to a sheer trouser. For spring, her organza-flower-detail tights feature a cut-out on the thigh with a floral appliqué design over the exposed flesh, designed to make the item feel “less heavy”. “The sheerness brings a sense of delicacy and femininity,” says the designer. “They look fragile but they’re made of tulle – which makes them a lot more durable.” Start-up Hēdoïne – backed by a panel of advisors that includes the former CEOs of Wolford and Louis Vuitton – has addressed the demand for both comfort and sustainability with (genuinely) ladder-resistant biodegradable nylons in a flattering 30 denier.

Wolford X Amina Muaddi crystal-embellished fishnet tights, £255 at Browns
Wolford X Amina Muaddi crystal-embellished fishnet tights, £255 at Browns

Footless tights and leggings have also come up for re-evaluation. Falke’s 50-denier Capri tights have a dancer-ish sensibility, while Balenciaga has a selection of black leggings in both technical and cotton fabrics (see Kim Kardashian’s recent wardrobe of skintight Balenciaga Spandex, which she debuted at the 2021 Met Gala).

“It’s about playing with the idea of naked dressing while still covering up,” says Dojaka. Wolford’s Azzali agrees: “Women want to show off again. They are back to their sensuality.”

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