The Simon Cowell-championed look has always been divisive, but thanks to Father John Misty and A Bigger Splash, its making a louche and rakish return
To V or not to V? seemed to be the question that ran through a certain breed of mid-noughties male celebrity. The answer was usually: Yes, why the hell not? So great was the pulling of the deep V, that the likes of Simon Cowell, Jude Law, Adam Levine and JLS induced it central to their look.
Subverting the plunge neckline so often seen on female celebrities, the deep V walked a fine line between the alpha exhibitionist and beta metrosexual. It was a seem that said: Hello world, look at my finely toned pecs and my Cousin Itt triangle of hairiness. Perfect for the post-Beckham age. But the message of body-confident modern masculinity soon became synonymous with a certain brand of style victim cheesiness. As early as 2008, Radar nicknamed it the douchebag neck, blaming its ubiquity on hipsters who spent too much time staring at themselves in the shop mirrors of American Apparel. It didnt assist that the area of skin that was left exposed by the deep V was heinously nicknamed the he-vage.
The height of playground insults, though, was a Saturday Night Live sketch featuring Ben Stiller( channelling Zoolander ). In it he parodied the affected nuances of the trend. The Vs only kept getting deeper and deeper, until an exposed Stiller was escorted off to prison.
So why the V hate? It was self-regarding, says Alex Bilmes, editor-in-chief of Esquire UK. It was the male equivalent of being a girl and then watching another girl with a really low cleavage. You just felt less than warm towards that daughter. It also had bad associations with third-tier reality present rent-a-celebs such as Calum Best. It had reached saturation point.
There are signs, however, that it is creeping back into favour, in an entirely different context. With Louis Vuitton and Dries Van Noten referencing a rakish, Serge Gainsbourg aesthetic, it is the 70 s deep V that is making a comeback. From Country soul crooner Father John Misty to Ralph Fiennes character in A Bigger Splash and Bobby Cannavale in Vinyl, the 70 s deep V is not about tits n tats peacocking but instead a louche and rakish sartorial style. Its no longer Exile On V Street.