Dare to Bare; the story of my ‘Bare Bottom Dress’

by Marlies Dekkers
What do you want to tell the world? In order to find out, sometimes you have to bare your soul. For me, it all came together when I designed my ‘Bare Butt Dress’. Read what happened when I put my dress –now a museum piece- to the test in Amsterdam’s Red light district.

25 years ago, I designed a dress that would completely change my life: the ‘Bare Bottom Dress’. (‘Blotebillenjurk’ in Dutch) The dress does exactly what it says; it shows your bottom. It does so dramatically though, with a startling contrast between the long flowy front and the revealing back. Wearing it, I felt strong and sexy, because the design didn’t aim to please in a traditional way. It was a pure expression of my sexual confidence. But would it come across that way? Would men see it as a celebration of female sexuality, or just another piece of ass? There was only one place to find out: Amsterdam’s Red Light District..

Nobody hissed at me, nobody offered me money. The prowling men would even shrink away when I tried to make eye contact. Here I was, walking alone and half-naked through these sexual hunting grounds, and I was untouchable! Slowly coming down from the adrenaline rush, I walked back to my car. It was a balmy summer night, and crossing the busy Leidseplein, I was unaware of the crowds on the pavement terraces till I heard clapping. When I looked up, I realized people were applauding. Me and my ‘blotebillenjurk’ got a standing ovation!

When Wim Pijbes became the Rijksmuseum’s director in 2008, the first acquisition he made was my ‘Bare Bottom Dress’. A few years later, ‘blotebillenjurk’ became an official word and was included in the Dutch dictionary. My dress had become a symbol of a new expression of female sexuality. But it was years earlier, crossing that busy square, that I realized in order to make changes, you have to take risks and bare your soul. (in my particular case, also my behind!) The rewards are great. In the coming weeks, I invite you to journey with me out of your comfort zones. Dare to be.

Model: Marlies Dekkers in Playboy
Photocredit: Inez van Lamsweerde

Most loved
NO ONE like me

Marlies Says

NO ONE like me

by marlies|dekkers

As liberal and open-minded as Marlies Dekkers is now, during her childhood she was equally conservative. “Every night, I would be on my knees, praying my Hail Marys.” Still, that period is precious to her; it has shaped her into the power woman she is now. This year, Marlies celebrates being in business for 25 years, the perfect opportunity to look back at her milestones.

Governed by NO ONE

Marlies Says

Governed by NO ONE

by marlies|dekkers

Flame-haired, brave-hearted and always dressed to dazzle, Elizabeth the First, also known as England’s ‘Virgin Queen’, is one of the most unforgettable women in history. Her glorious reign is known as The Golden Age ~ a period that saw the birth of Shakespeare, the defeat of the Spanish Armada and the emergence of England as a world power. It lasted almost 45 years; Elizabeth’s legacy as a feminist icon however, has already spanned nearly 5 centuries. “My sex cannot diminish my prestige.”

Quiet Power

Maison Marlies

Quiet Power

by marlies|dekkers

Only 11 days after he beheaded his second wife (the flamboyant Anne Boleyn), King Henry VIII married a pale, fair-haired maiden called Jane Seymour. Who exactly was this girl, and what had made the king so besotted with her? To this day, historians don’t quite know what to make of her.

Glamour, the magical power of persuasion

Marlies Says

Glamour, the magical power of persuasion

by marlies|dekkers
This season, more is more as glamour is back with a glittery vengeance. But was it ever really away? Not for me! From Marlene Dietrich in a top hat to Beyoncé shaking her booty in glittery thigh-high boots; to me, glamour is timeless and has many faces. It is the magical dust that gives everyday life that golden sparkle. More importantly, when used well, glamour can actually change your life. It has definitely shaped mine…