Peek-a-boo chic or sheer folly? LIZ JONES on the new see-through celebrity look

Peek-a-boo chic or sheer folly LIZ JONES on the new see-through celebrity look

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UPDATED:

00:12 GMT, 16 May 2012

With each new fashion trend I often ponder the provenance.

What were the designers thinking when they came up with sheer – first glimpsed on the catwalk in 2008, in transparent, gossamer gowns designed by John Galliano for Dior couture, and which is now ubiquitous

Do they find it funny we are all going out and about showing our big pants

Gothic dream: I think this is rather lovely. Actress Kristen Stewart is always a bit gothic rather than girly, but in this lace fishtail gown by Marchesa the look is softened by panels of silver. It hugs her figure, too

Gothic dream: I think this is rather lovely. Actress Kristen Stewart is always a bit gothic rather than girly, but in this lace fishtail gown by Marchesa the look is softened by panels of silver. It hugs her figure, too

Feathered fiend: Beyonce in Givenchy at the Met Ball is a lesson to us all. Instead of the lace giving her a waist, creating a trompe l'oeil of hourglass loveliness, she looks wide. Sheer can be unforgiving.

Feathered fiend: Beyonce in Givenchy at the Met Ball is a lesson to us all. Instead of the lace giving her a waist, creating a trompe l'oeil of hourglass loveliness, she looks wide. Sheer can be unforgiving.

Strictly awful: I fell in love with Alesha Dixon during BGT: she has such an open, beautiful face, and a big dirty laugh. But this dress is truly terrible: she looks like a circus performer at a funeral

Strictly awful: I fell in love with Alesha Dixon during BGT: she has such an open, beautiful face, and a big dirty laugh. But this dress is truly terrible: she looks like a circus performer at a funeral

Feeling blue: Nicole Kidman's Proenza Schouler is hideous. I hate the bodice, tattered skirt and clashing shoes

Feeling blue: Nicole Kidman's Proenza Schouler is hideous. I hate the bodice, tattered skirt and clashing shoes

In theory, sheer should be wearable: it should be sexy, but still give that all-important coverage. It should give a little air to a long gown, and mould and sculpt the body. Too often, though, sheer is given all the thought and skill applied to a pair of net curtains.

The best sheer is provided by lace, pioneered on the catwalk so memorably in the autumn/winter 2008 collection from Miuccia Prada, who sent an entirely lace collection down the runway.

Even then, all the women in the front row were thinking: ‘It will be fine once it’s been lined.’

But as with all these trends it has been bastardised and sent out on yet another celebrity keen to show off her gym-honed limbs.

This week, it became apparent that the look had reached critical mass when both Charlize Theron and Kristen Stewart, stars of the new film Snow White And The Huntsman, wore sheer to its London premiere.

But to see how it should be done, look at the way Dannii Minogue wears her Jasper Conran dress: just a hint of what lies beneath . . .

Get knotted: I find Charlize Theron's Dior gown a bit muddled, like a giant knot. Its all too gothic: she needs a silver bag and shoes, plus softer make-up

Get knotted: I find Charlize Theron's Dior gown a bit muddled, like a giant knot. It's all too gothic: she needs a silver bag and shoes, plus softer make-up

Xtra Factor: Dannii Minogue in Jasper Conran two years ago. I love this dress: the amount of sheer is not over the top but is flattering and soft

Xtra Factor: Dannii Minogue in Jasper Conran two years ago. I love this dress: the amount of sheer is not over the top but is flattering and soft

Red alert: Jessie J's outfits on The Voice have been bizarre: patterned pyjamas and even a tutu, which should be barred on anyone over six. But at the Brits she looked fabulous - a splash of colour for a change, and a bit of cheekiness

Red alert: Jessie J's outfits on The Voice have been bizarre: patterned pyjamas and even a tutu, which should be barred on anyone over six. But at the Brits she looked fabulous – a splash of colour for a change, and a bit of cheekiness

Graceless lace: Heidi Klum, at the Met Ball in New York, wears Escada, a dress that reminds me of curtains in a loo. The necklace and bangles are also too much

Graceless lace: Heidi Klum, at the Met Ball in New York, wears Escada, a dress that reminds me of curtains in a loo. The necklace and bangles are also too much

Altar image: Jennifer Lopez pulls off this Georges Chakra dress, but it is a little too bridal for me, and I'm not a fan of great frou frous of net at the hem: a column is more sophisticated

Altar image: Jennifer Lopez pulls off this Georges Chakra dress, but it is a little too bridal for me, and I'm not a fan of great frou frous of net at the hem: a column is more sophisticated

Cold shouldered: Amanda Holden at the Britain's Got Talent wrap party in a J'Aton Couture dress that is both sheer and a mullet (short at the front, long at the back). She needs a grown-up gown with more colour

Cold shouldered: Amanda Holden at the Britain's Got Talent wrap party in a J'Aton Couture dress that is both sheer and a mullet (short at the front, long at the back). She needs a grown-up gown with more colour

Green with envy: Rachel Weisz's strapless emerald Valentino column has only a hint of sheer, and is enlivened by silver accessories and minimal jewellery. Simply wonderful!

Green with envy: Rachel Weisz's strapless emerald Valentino column has only a hint of sheer, and is enlivened by silver accessories and minimal jewellery. Simply wonderful!

Immaterial girl: Madonna disappoints in this bandage dress by Dolce & Gabbana: It's like a rag

Immaterial girl: Madonna disappoints in this bandage dress by Dolce & Gabbana: It's like a rag

Lowe blow: Model Daisy Lowe, in Craig Lawrence at the Baftas last year, looks old before her time in a dowdy dress that does nothing for her curves

Lowe blow: Model Daisy Lowe, in Craig Lawrence at the Baftas last year, looks old before her time in a dowdy dress that does nothing for her curves