Is Timothée Chalamet Queerbaiting Us?

Timothée Chalamet is 2018’s version of a leading man. He’s smart, eloquent and devilishly handsome. He’s also been lauded for his self-awareness and modern take on masculinity — most recently in i-D’s November issue in which the Beautiful Boy star chatted with ex-One Directioner Harry Styles.

But at this year’s Golden Globes the 23-year-old breakout star turned up wearing something… questionable. An understated ensemble from Virgil Abloh’s Louis Vuitton that included a tunic neck shirt, pants, Chelsea boots and… a harness?

Harnesses are no stranger on the runway, let alone the red carpet. Vivienne Westwood’s SEX boutique brought the erotic wear into window displays in London in the mid-1970s. Comme des Garçons showed harnesses in their 2010 spring collection. After that, haute-bondage found its way onto numerous stars including Lady Gaga, Rihanna and Miley Cyrus.

Just last year, Olympic figure skater Adam Rippon made headlines when he walked the Oscars red carpet in a Moschino harness tuxedo. While his look certainly grabbed attention, it did so in the right context. Rippon is a gay man, and while harnesses don’t solely belong to gay men, they are a huge part of bondage, leather and puppy culture within the gay community.

So, what are we to make of Chalamet’s sparkly Virgil-for-Vuitton item? After the star took to the carpet, Vuitton clarified that Chalamet’s piece is actually an “embroidered bib” from Abloh’s latest collection. However, if we’re judging on appearance alone, the sequined piece appears to be much more of a harness than a typical bib, seeing as it fits around both shoulders and crosses the chest.

Awards show red carpets are more than just a fashionable display for the press, especially with the advent of social media. They’re a chance for stars to step out and grab attention beyond the lenses of photographers and those in attendance, and for Chalamet, who identifies as a heterosexual man, this red carpet was no different.

After his on-screen romance with Armie Hammer in Luca Guadagnino’s 2017 film adaptation of Call Me By Your Name, the New York-native amassed a large following of straights and gays alike, all pining after their very own Elio. The New York Times even published an article entitled the “The Age of the Twink,” attributing Chalamet — among others — to the mainstreaming of slim, smooth bodies as figurative and emotional opposition to the classical idea of built, buff men.

Chalamet’s choice of garment is an odd one though. The actor notoriously prefers working without a stylist, so possible as it may be that the choice of a bedazzled harness was a harmless one, it’s hard to believe that one of the hottest young stars today wasn’t met with some counseling on his outfit choice. After all, Chalamet’s boyish good looks and embrace of new masculinity are partly to blame for his worldwide appeal.

Fashion-forward his outfit choice may be, it seems like a step too far into an arena of dress that should be for his eyes only.