There he was, lilac shirt slashed open to the naval, drawing the curtain back on a leather thong necklace and fuzzy, tanned barrel chest. Comments ranged from “It’s a strong look!” to “HELLA-SEXY! I’m flying to Greece immediately!” – making it an effective tourism campaign, if nothing else.
A week later, Johnny Mercer, MP for Plymouth Moor View, tried the same thing, only losing the shirt completely and letting his small spray of chest fluff flutter in the Derriford Hospital appointment room. Afterwards, not one person said they were flying to Plymouth immediately. Poor old Johnny; he truly never fails to miss.
Team Macron cannot have overlooked the Mitsotakis image, nor the wider trend. In France, untamed body hair is currency. Serge Gainsbourg knew it, and Gaston Le Gume, the villain from Beauty and the Beast, sang it: “As you see I’ve got biceps to spare […] and every last inch of me’s covered with hair!” If any nation on earth was going to embrace the return of he-vage, it was the French.
Naturally, conspiracy theorists have dug up old images of Macron on the beach and questioned why he seems to have more hair in his new chesty thirst trap than he used to. They have a point, actually. PhotoShop? A trick of the light? A mid-life second puberty, because he just has that much testosterone coursing around that petit physique?
The Élysée will get back to those queries in due course. For now, as the age of he-vage takes over, they will be busy thinking of ways to get the rug out on the campaign trail again, even if it means adding accessories. Le Pen might be mightier than the sword, but against a vintage 1970s medallion nestling in a forest of manliness? Bonne chance, Marine. You don’t stand a chance.
Chest foot forward
Style writer Stephen Doig shares his rules for upper-body baring
Consider the situation
Sipping a chilled glass of rosé overlooking the Cote d’Azur, a raffishly undone shirt is entirely appropriate. Less so around the conference table, so be mindful of where you choose to bare. As a general rule of thumb, if your colleagues can see your nipples you’re in line for a disciplinary.
How low should you go?
We’re not in the habit of body shaming, but those of a larger timbre should avoid undoing too enthusiastically because it will direct the eye to larger stomachs. If you happen to be blessed with an athletic frame, by all means undo and flaunt what you’ve got. In holiday set-ups, perhaps button up a couple of notches while people are eating.
There’s been a backlash in recent years against the waxed Ken Doll aesthetic of the Love Island contingent, but a bit of maintenance never goes amiss; you want to channel a debonair Tom Ford instead of a lothario-esque Tom Selleck. So if you’re particularly hirsute, consider clippers to keep the hair neat and trimmed.