Nylons in Glamour Images: Functionality and Fetish
Nylons are many things to many people. For millions of women in the workplace, nylons and pantyhose are nothing more than a required part of their everyday work attire.
Yet for some of us, these silky, shiny and smooth leg coverings are the ultimate symbol of femininity and sexuality.
How is it possible for an undergarment to not only elevate its status from a functional undergarment to fetish icon, but moreover manage to spark thousands of women to riot over its absence?
How have nylons crept onto Paris runways and into mainstream photography? And are pantyhose still popular today?
Together, let's find out the answer to these questions and others.
The term "nylons" has become synonymous with stockings and pantyhose for over half a century. Nylon is the most common fiber used in the production of stockings and pantyhose; silk being another - although a less widely or durable choice so maybe this could be a reason why pantyhose and stockings are also known as nylons.
In the 1930s, an American chemical engineering corporation by name of DuPont, stumbled upon a synthetic fiber that would revolutionize everything from wartime to women's fashion.
As America saw the 1930s come to an end, DuPont was poised to debut its new miracle fiber and the stockings made from it at the 1939 New York World's Fair.
Women in America and the world over were awe-struck by the sight of two gorgeous DuPont models tugging feverishly at the new miracle stocking.
This "tug of war" feat could have never been accomplished with silk stockings as they were too fragile and would run easily - making nylon stockings an instant "must have" item amongst the fashionably elite.
In May of 1940, to the delight of average American women, these extremely sought after stockings were made available to the public for the first time.
So coveted were these stockings that four million pairs were sold within days and by the end of the first year, DuPont had sold over 64 million pairs of the 'stronger than steel' hosiery.
Sadly, this love affair with nylon stockings would soon be threatened by war.
During World War II, women the world over had to come to grips with the fact that DuPont switched its nylon production from hosiery to war effort and they would be forced to go barelegged!
No longer was nylon available to enhance and accentuate their sexy legs. Gone were the days when lucky husbands could run their hands up and down the legs of their nylon wives.
Instead, this sheer and shiny synthetic fiber was recruited to perform duties such as becoming tents, parachutes and other battlefield necessities to aid in war efforts.
Where did this leave the fashion conscious and nylon addicted fashionistas of the world?
What were the nylon wives of the '40s to do?
Feeling naked and without stockings to augment their sexy legs, wartime era fashion mavens did what any well put together diva would do - they got resourceful!
Countless women in America and abroad drew fake seams up the back of their legs to mimic the leg elongating lines that a pair of fully fashioned stockings would provide.
This was a nice try, and these women should be given an "A" for effort, but these attempts could not provide the full visual and sensory experience of true nylons.
Men loved seeing curvy legs draped in a pair of 'smooth to the touch' stockings and for several years, stockings were extremely scarce. Those attempting to "woo" a lady would pay exorbitant fees for the invaluable gift of hosiery to please their nylon wives.
The war did not put a damper on this nylon lust, in fact, it only served to increase it.
Women, and the men who adored them, had a deliciously tantalizing taste of these new stockings. People the world over wanted more of these classy and erotic leg coverings and would do nearly anything to get them.
After the war ended, the flames of nylon lovers were rekindled and the stocking race was on once again.
Unfortunately, these barelegged ladies and their hose-loving partners outweighed the supply.
DuPont could not keep up with the post-war fashion demand for nylon and, well, the rest is history.
After WWII, the "Nylon Riots" brought out the absolute worst in nylon obsessed women.
Named after the numerous brawls which broke out as a result of tens upon thousands of women battling it out for scant supplies of stockings, these Nylon Riots only served to further a fully fashioned stocking frenzy.
From 1945-1946, newspapers were replete with headlines of women fighting tooth and nail to obtain a pair of these highly coveted, man-seducing undergarments.
Around the late 1940s, the production of nylon for fashion had finally resumed, but nearly a full ten years had transpired since DuPont first made the word nylon a worldwide name.
After the war, hemlines got shorter and stockings needed to stretch higher upon the leg.
The modest '40s style of dress and stockings held up by garter belts rapidly gave way to short, chic miniskirts and the rise of pantyhose in the 1960s.
Embracing new found sexuality, women felt empowered by their bodies and shunned the 'below knee' length fashion of their mothers.
This created a burgeoning need for hosiery that still covered the leg, however did not show the stocking weft.
Nowadays, catching a peek of the lacy top of a woman's stocking attached to a strappy garter belt is the height of sexiness for some. However, in the miniskirt heyday, it was considered a fashion faux pas to be seen showing the tops of stockings.
Pantyhose enthusiasm continued to gain momentum and by the late 1960s, pantyhose sales had almost entirely surpassed stockings as the hosiery of choice amongst American women.
The seamless integration of panty and stocking was just what the independent woman needed to break free of the mold and show off long, sexy legs in those impossibly short miniskirts and dresses.
But other than functionality, what is the appeal of pantyhose?
It is true that most women wearing pantyhose are doing so without any panties. Does this improper yet still proper act of going without panties change a woman's attitude?
Does it make a woman feel empowered or vulnerable?
There is something irresistible about a woman's naked sex constantly being stroked and caressed all day by smooth nylon.
To add to this allure, pantyhose are an essential accessory for an elegant, polished, sophisticated 'look' and also a required attire for most professional work environments.
How can a single thing be so naughty yet so nice at the same time?
Perhaps it is this sexy, dual nature of pantyhose and nylons that has garnered the attention of photographers and fashion designers alike for years. A burning desire must exist to immortalize pantyhose's ability to bring out the unique sexual charm of any woman wearing them - while still maintaining her piety and class.
This is what makes nylons and pantyhose so timeless and incapable of going out of fashion.
Recently, pantyhose and tights are taking center stage again on the fashion and photography scene as photographers and top designers become hip to their sex appeal.
Fashion icon Jean-Paul Gaultier's fall/winter 2006 runway show took "mini" to new heights featuring gothic models prominently displaying their sleek legs and ass cheeks draped in nylon pantyhose as they paraded down the catwalk.
Today, we are witnessing the lines blur in an orgy of function meeting fetish meeting fashion and photography.
For instance, world renown photographer Patrick Demarchelier recently captured sultry actress Cate Blanchett on film as she is "caught in the act" of pulling a nylon stocking over her head.
Bear in mind, nylon and pantyhose fetish are not only limited to high fashion photography and haute couture Paris runway shows.
In 2001, Uwe Fulleborn, a German-born photographer, writer and abject pantyhose fetishist photographed everyday women in pantyhose. This coffee table book, Nylons: Girls Next Door in Erotic, quickly became a cult classic amongst pantyhose and stocking enthusiasts.
In glamour images Nylons and pantyhose have the ability to instantly transform any woman into an erotic, exotic, sex Goddess while still maintaining her classy charm.
The sight of a sheer, shiny stockinged leg has the ability to transfix and captivate all those who are so privileged as to get a peek.
Pantyhose have had a long, sordid past and who knows what the future holds for this incredibly lustful, classy and sexy undergarment, but one thing is for certain - they aren't going anywhere anytime soon, and we don't want them to!
Here's why I'm making this page
Pantyhose have an unmistakable allure and appeal that captivates us. From riots sparked in its honor to receiving the spotlight on a Paris runway, find out why this sexy undergarment is so special.
Are you a fellow artist?
I'd like to experiment using nylon in photography. I believe it is well understood as a symbol and there is still great artistic potential when using it in creative ways.