Like so many other things that were only recently considered too sexually charged to comfortably see the light of day, in a few short years the leather harness has infiltrated the realms of what we consider fashionable. That may sound like a critique but I can assure you it’s not; it’s merely a fact. When bondage and fetish fashion first hit our trend radars back in 2009 it was all bodycon, leather, studs and chains. But it’s progressed. It’s moved on. It’s no longer a season-defining trend as it was back then, instead it’s morphed into something that remains nebulously floating around the edges – more refined, more classically-inspired, and a little more isolated from everything else that’s going on.

And you know when something goes from the shelves of Coco de Mer to the runways of Hermes the shift is complete: it’s no longer luxury fetish, it’s just plain luxury. That’s where bondage, and the leather harness in particular, has ended up. Still far from mainstream, far from over-saturation, but with enough exposure that we no longer question it as strange or outlandish. And now, as it moves into fashion for spring 2013, that’s the best place it can be.

bondage harness fashionAbbey Lee Kershaw in Vogue Russia

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A few more seasons passing by meant not only a clear, distinct, even beautiful upturn of the once rough leather harness, but they also meant further time, time for the fashionable accessory to grow, to blossom, to reach a new extent of polish and sophistication. The spring 2013 runways were the first to witness change, shaped into a positively delicate alteration of the luxurious harness, with a strong emphasis on discretion this time around. Gently infused into an array of ladylike silhouettes, there were no more signs of the bulky clasps, chains or blunt studs, meaning the trend got to be perfected. Now it’s all about subtlety with an edge, rather than fierce fetish statements.

The leather harness on the runway

Edged beauty and a battle of strong contrasts served as subtexts for Ann Demeulemeester’s bold spring 2013 collection. If there was an ethereal quality about her flowing, floor sweeping silk gowns, that same effect was certainly toughened up by the use of anatomical leather harnesses as main accessories.

leather harness fashion accessory
Leather harness on the runway at Ann Demeulemeester S/S ’13

Max Azria saw behind all the pretty pastels, the delicate lace and the feminine silhouettes when he abandoned himself to the idea of fashionable seductiveness. Mostly made out of leather and paired to crepe dresses in striking delicate hues, BCBG’s leather harnesses felt sexy and empowering.

leather harness fashion accessory
Leather harness on the runway at BCBG Max Azria S/S ’13

Built upon simplicity but carrying the unmistakable flavor of the rebellious ’90s, Diesel Black Gold’s line-up for spring felt like the ultimate power expression of urban-wear. Especially since it juxtapose the athletic aesthetic, with a subtle bondage spice, still hardly noticeable in the appealing day garments.

leather harness fashion accessory
Leather harness on the runway at Diesel Black Gold S/S ’13

For spring 2013, Dsquared² found an effortless way of mixing the leather harnesses into their fun and eclectic collection. Nothing like a tough looking accessory to break the sexiness exuded by a flirty, leopard-printed party dress. All the better if the bondage straps were solidified by heart rings.

leather harness fashion accessory
Leather harness on the runway at Dsquared² S/S ’13

Not exactly the one to steer away from a risque approach, Max Azria felt the need to graduate his bondage fascination over not one, but two major collections. For Herve Leger, the designer further accented his signature body-con dresses with a selection of leather harnesses, ranging in styles and colors.

leather harness fashion accessory
Leather harness on the runway at Herve Leger S/S ’13

Quite unexpectedly Jason Wu’s whole idea of femininity turned dangerously sexy for spring. As leather and lace collided on the runway, it was the striking sophistication exuded by his most breathtaking gowns, as paired with subtle leather harnesses that felt the most provocative, yet utterly refreshing.

leather harness fashion accessory
Leather harness on the runway at Jason Wu S/S ’13

“Tailoring with a lingerie edge” that was Donatella Versace’s personal take on effortless sensuality for spring. That being said, her fabulous, light, bohemian-looking gowns found a better half in the black leather harnesses accenting the silhouettes and complementing the organic color palette.

leather harness fashion accessory
Leather harness on the runway at Versace S/S ’13

The leather harness looking forward to fall

Come fall, the leather harness as a trend doesn’t necessarily get an extreme make-over, however it becomes more of a clear statement. Cushnie et Ochs further explored their peekaboo signature cutouts, having black Y-straps encasing a sexy bustier top ensemble, topped by a cropped leather jacket.

leather harness fashion accessory
Leather harness at Cushnie et Ochs Pre-Fall ’13

At Herve Leger, the bandage dresses receive even more of a wow factor for fall, courtesy of the smartly inserted leather harnesses. Toned down and stylized, the strappy accessories feel more subtle than ever, but still manage to carry that sexy undertone signature.

leather harness fashion accessory
Leather harness at Herve Leger Pre-Fall ’13

How to style the leather harness

As a 2013 fashion accessory the leather harness styles best when paired with something sophisticated. Think of it as fetishised elegance: a pair of wide-leg pants, a flowing maxidress, a pair of jodhpurs and tailored jacket, a crisp white shirt. An equestrian influence is somewhat timeless while a clean and modern, slightly androgynous look, is perfectly now.

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