Core Cutouts

Ahh, finally: vindication for our daily crunches and sit-ups. Today's Trend Report brings core cutouts to the fashion forefront, as we've happily noticed this emerging night-out essential on beloved tastemakers like Rooney Mara and Elle Macpherson. But even if abdominal workouts don't always fit into your everyday agenda, have no fear. Whether you prefer to expose an expanse of toned tummy or simply highlight discreet slivers of skin, these core cutout tops and dresses-in toned-down monotone hues like black and off-white-are a sassy way to flaunt what you've got.

We first noticed this slightly provocative trend at Proenza Schouler's S/S 12 show, where we swooned over the Black Raffia Open Weave Dress ($2350). Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez's figure-hugging bodysuit and semi-sheer skirt is a truly fetching combo-modern, edgy, and alluring at the same time. Though Proenza Schouler's take requires quite a bit of aplomb to wear, several of our favourite sartorial stars prove that cutouts belong off the catwalk as well. So let's cut to the chase!

At the annual RxART party in New York last fall, Moda Operandi founder Lauren Santo Domingo wore a Cushnie et Ochs cutout dress held together with silver safety pin embellishments, crowned with Tom Ford heels and an Ann Demeulemeester clutch. Though the dress reveals a narrow slice of Santo Domingo's enviable midsection, long sleeves and a knee-length hemline keep her look appropriately polished. Santo Domingo's sleek sophistication is one way to go, but we also adore Rooney Mara's edgy interpretation of the cutout trend. Earlier this month at a photocall for The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo in Rome, the actress sported Dion Lee's Leather Vent Dress ($1697, available in March) with Pierre Hardy's Suede Pumps ($795, 646.449.0070). We think the clever cutaways in Mara's little black number flash just the right amount of flesh, so the final result is both youthful and sexy! Note how both Santo Domingo and Mara leave superfluous adornments at home, opting for streamlined ensembles that keep the focus on their very best accessory-a must-have midriff.

For trendsetters who favour the jaw-drop factor, models Clara Paget and Elle Macpherson offer terrific examples of flashier core cutouts. The former fittingly shimmied into her Herve Leger by Max Azria Astrid Dress ($3000) for the brand's Winter Party in London last November, while the latter wore the same beloved label to the NBC Universal Winter TCA All-Star Party early this month. We fully appreciate how the peekaboo vents in Paget's body-con frock are accentuated by gold buckle and stud details. Where Paget oozes a tough-meets-sexy vibe by pairing her look with lace-up boots, Macpherson amps up the va-va-va-voom. Displaying suggestive swatches of skin in a look-at-me-now Herve Leger by Max Azria Evelina Dress ($3200, available in April) and a dose of sartorial 'tude in Christian Louboutin's Pigalle Spikes 120 Studded Leather Pumps ($1095), the Australian beauty nailed this daring trend! Though nothing curbs our fondness for these contemporary cutout dresses, we simply can't neglect to praise Giovanna Battaglia's stunning slice and dice separates. The editor/stylist, supporting last fall's "Richard Hambleton: A Retrospective" exhibition in New York, bares strategic slivers in a vintage Gianni Versace top, but aptly covers up with an Emporio Armani jacket and a high-waisted BCBGMAXAZRIA Sheryl Flared Skirt ($118). To our delight, Battaglia's Sergio Rossi shoes and gilded Sara Battaglia Autari bag ($1410) reinforce her outfit's opulent black and gold colour scheme.

Now that you're armed with a new knowledge of core cutouts (and possibly a renewed desire to do more sit-ups), we're sure you're anxious to tackle the trend! Several standout pieces made the cut, including sleek basics like Halston's One-Shoulder Cutout Dress ($492) and Chloe's Cutout Leather And Wool-Crepe Dress ($825). Both of these numbers mirror the sexy simplicity of Santo Domingo and Mara's skin-baring frocks. If you wish to emulate Paget's off-white number, you'll be happy to know that her dress comes in a similar variation: Herve Leger's Cutout Dress ($1960). We also found Pencey's Cutout Dress ($316), with its artfully placed cutaways, ruching, and boned bodice, a highly flattering way to wear the trend. Alexander Wang's Black Dress With Cut Out Detail ($1145) is our pick for a cutout-inclined risk-taker like Macpherson, but Urban Outfitters' Reverse Cutout Dress ($79) offers an affordable and equally fashion-forward option, albeit with a chic bohemian twist. If you prefer to try a peekaboo top a la Battaglia, pair Rick Owens' Cutout Crepe Top ($240) or ASOS' Corset Top With Cut Out Sides ($35) with a high-waisted skirt or pants to create plenty of versatile cutting-edge looks!-Tiffany Tse

Proenza Schouler S/S 12 photo, courtesy of Proenza Schouler; Photos of Rooney Mara and Clara Paget, courtesy of Getty; Photo of Giovanna Battaglia, courtesy of Billy Farrell Agency; Photo of Elle Macpherson, courtesy of Splash News.

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