‘A timeless silhouette’: Why the Bardot neckline became Adele’s signature style
It’s Adele’s world and we’re all just living in it. Need proof? Look no further than the events of last night’s 2022 Brit Awards, when the “Easy On Me” singer graced us with three high fashion looks, each one as glamorous as the next.
Adele arrived on the red carpet in an elegant Armani Privé gown crafted from black velvet and delicate tulle which adorned her shoulders and fell down her back into a train.
The design, which featured a plunging Bardot neckline and full-length sleeves, was accessorised with Lorraine Schwartz earrings and a huge teardrop-shaped diamond ring (which some speculated could be an engagement ring).
Later in the night, the 33-year-old took to the stage to deliver a performance of “I Drink Wine” from her latest album, 30. She opted for an off-the-shoulder, sequined metallic Valentino haute couture dress paired with gold Valentino Garavani Atelier slingback heels.
For her final look of the evening, she changed into another Bardot-style look, this time a velvet mini jacket dress by Marianna Senchina which she paired with black tights and pointed black heels.
One common theme among all three of Adele’s outfits from the evening was the off-the-shoulder neckline, which has become been a staple of the songstress over the years.
Fashion stylist Miranda Holder says Adele’s penchant for the Bardot-style is likely because it opens up the décolletage and broadens the shoulders, giving the appearance of a narrower waist.
“With a final flourish, the dress fanned out at the bottom, reinforcing the hourglass shape which in the designer’s eye is the perfect female form,” Holder said of the Armani Privé gown.
“This dress style creates the ultimate flattering, timeless silhouette and is the epitome of feel-good fashion.
“The stand-collar neckline served to up the drama at the awards ceremony and served to elongate Adele’s figure, giving her even more height and stage presence. The long slender sleeves created a striking contrast with the voluminous skirt of the dress.”
Personal stylist Marian Kwei says the off-the-shoulder style gives the illusion of a lithe and elongated body shape.
“It takes pressure off having to have a small waist and so is perfect for the woman with a fuller figure or heavier bottom,” Kwei said.
“This type of style of clothing is genius because it lengthens the body and that’s a blessing because not everyone was born with supermodel height.”
The origins of the Bardot can be traced back to the Regency and Victorian eras, when the exposed neckline was at the heart of fashion.
In 1855, German artist Franz Xaver Winterhalter captured French empress Eugénie de Montijo, wife of Napolean III, in the painting Surrounded by her Ladies in Waiting. All nine women are depicted in off-the-shoulder dresses.
However, this style of neckline only got its name in the 1950s after it was adopted by model, actor and fashion icon Brigitte Bardot at Cannes Film Festival in 1953. Here, Bardot was pictured wearing a red off-the-shoulder blouse, tucked into an A-line denim skirt.
Since Adele’s return to the spotlight last autumn, ahead of the release of 30, she has often been spotted in Bardot-style pieces.
In September, the singer attended the wedding of NBA player Anthony Davis and Marlen P wearing a custom off-the-shoulder Schiaparelli column dress featuring white silk taffeta rosette sleeves.
In October 2020, she hosted Saturday Night Live wearing a shoulder-baring jacket from Brock Collection’s Fall 2020 line in the style “Rohtak”.
Her shoulders made another appearance during her ITV special, An Audience with Adele, when she donned a floor-length sparkling black gown, courtesy of Nicolas Ghesquière for Louis Vuitton.
The list goes on. There was the One Night Only concert with CBS, when she wore another Schiaparelli design, and the music video for her most recent single, “Oh My God”, in which she donned a corseted scarlet red dress from the Vivienne Westwood Couture collection.
Louisa Rogers, a lecturer in fashion communications at Northumbria University and founder of UK-based clothing brand Studio Courtenay, said Adele’s signature style combines Hollywood glamour with a “flash of flesh”.
“It’s so flattering because it elongates the neck. She was like an elegant Morticia Adams who eschewed the dopamine dressing that has come to characterise the Covid-era in favour of something timeless and tasteful, if a little safe,” Rogers said.