Navel Gazing

Fashion and its victims.
Aug. 14 1997 3:30 AM

Navel Gazing

The necessary pleasures of Miss America's midriff.

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Extra daring nakedness has gone back to being the domain of professionals, the models who pose for nude photos or who wear runway couture that bares the breasts, buttocks, and navel under transparent spangled veiling meant for ballrooms, not the beach. Meanwhile the neat bikinis and one-piece suits also shown in the June Vogue look like timeless fashion classics, photographed on a perfect body in a manner suggesting the serene elegance of antique sculpture. We could easily follow along in that vein, in our less perfect versions, and so can Miss America, in her sweet one; but what's truly groundbreaking nowadays is to stroll on the sand or romp in the waves in a full-length dress.

Anne Hollander is the author of Sex and Suits. She is a regular contributor to Slate.