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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

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