The Orgasm Gap: ‘We have this frustrating myth that sex is easy and innate’

Aoife Drury

Single parenting in a pandemic: ‘I cry alone in the car so the kids don’t...

Lia Hynes

Author Ruth Gilligan: ‘I have slowly colonised our flat’s small second bedroom into my writing...

Sophie Grenham

About 400,000 women in Ireland have this condition and don’t know


The Cabinet Sub-Committee on Covid-19 currently has no women sitting on it. Why?

Lynn Enright

Tiger King season 2 is coming – and Carole Baskin has some thoughts

Jennifer McShane

Get out of your head: What to do when you mistrust your gut instinct

Niamh Ennis

Lynne Embleton is first-ever female CEO of Aer Lingus

Jennifer McShane

Lady Gaga’s dogs found safe and well after being stolen at gunpoint

Jennifer McShane

Image / Fashion

Chain reaction: How chainmail became the new normal in fashion

by Freya Drohan
21st Jan 2020

Instagram/Lucy Williams

Instagram/Lucy Williams

Not since 2017, or rather 3 BC, has so much chainmail been seen. Here’s how body armour became the go-to aesthetic of the body-conscious Instagram set

When Kendall Jenner attended her 21st birthday two years ago, her barely-there sliver of a dress made headlines the world over. To celebrate the turning of age in the States, the reality starlet opted to wear a $9,000 custom-created chainmail dress reminiscent of the same one that Paris Hilton wore a decade earlier.

The dress not only sent eyebrows raising and tabloids alight, but it also led to a resurgence in interest around chainmail. While Jenner’s leave-nothing-to-the imagination dress was certainly considered “unwearable” among most mere mortals, ironically that’s exactly what legendary designer and chainmail obsessive Paco Rabanne had named his collection — Twelve Unwearable Dresses — when he unveiled frocks constructed from metal back in the 1960s.

A modern twist

These days though, Paco Rabanne’s disco-tastic skirts and dresses (as seen below) are tame compared to some of the trends that Instagram has brought to the fore. Still, the label’s creative director Julien Dossena knows to keep the dancefloor-ready garments as an integral part of his collection half a century later, particularly now that they’ve found a new fan club among social media influencers.

Chainmail also had its moment at the 2019 Met Gala, (where the theme was Camp: Notes on Fashion), where Gemma Chan, Sienna Miller and Tilda Swinton leaned into the theme by wearing shimmering metallic numbers.

On the catwalk, emerging ‘It Girl’-approved brands like Attico and Area played around with slinky chainmail and rhinestone accessories in their collections throughout last year. And Paco Rabanne continued peddling its hit €3,000 dresses; because if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

The high street edit

The trend steadily filtered down to the likes of ASOS, Boohoo and PrettyLittleThing, who copied variants of Jenner’s birthday dress (it’s still available, though not for the faint-hearted) while also crafting everything from chokers and belts to clutch bags out of the medium, giving it a sexy new guise.

Maybe it’s just a coincidence that battlefield-ready chainmail is a signifier of protective armour, strength and war. Either way, its current omnipresence certainly feels fitting for the tumultuous times we’re living in.

Although, then again, perhaps the Instagram set just want to wear something they can use the Kira Kira app on.

Shop the trend now:

Strass Top, €39.99 from Mango

Chainmail Triangle Scarf, €182 from

Pencil Dress in Metallic Chainmail, €38.71 from ASOS

Silver Diamante Chainmail Pouch, €32 from

Silver-tone Shoe Clips, €109.52 from

Mesh Crossbody Bag, €19.99 from Zara

Chain Crop Top, €52 from

Sparkle 1969 Medium Shoulder Bag, €595 from

Read more: ’90s-style leather blazers are back and cooler than ever

Read more: These are the five biggest wedding trends for 2020

Read more: 7 common wedding guest etiquette questions answered

Also Read

The North Face
How The North Face went from the source of teenage envy to the summit of fashion

The North Face jackets have sold out everywhere, but when...

By Edaein OConnell

Irish fashion insiders on the future of fashion


Nike’s first hands-free shoes are a win for people with disabilities

By Jennifer McShane

All I want for Valentine’s is a cute pair of pyjamas (any of these 12 will do)

Nice pyjamas are the new going out top.

By Lauren Heskin

Why we’re wearing pearls again, and the prettiest to buy now

Timeless as they are, pearls are having a revival. Put it down to a few gems, like Kamala Harris and Harry Styles, whose pearls of wisdom are elevating us all.

By Holly O'Neill

This one classic top is going to transform your winter wardrobe

Groundbreaking, it ain’t, but the roll-necks versatility could make it...

By Holly O'Neill

Kamala Harris
Please, keep asking Vice President Kamala Harris who she’s wearing

Vice President Kamala Harris' fashion choices are not only intentional and important, they're vital to a diversifying industry, writes New York-based fashion editor Freya Drohan.

By Freya Drohan

what's on tonight
Chanel’s new podcast and the most-anticipated novel of 2021: What’s on tonight, Wednesday, January 20

Wondering what to do with yourself? Hotly anticipated new books,...

By Lauren Heskin