A Brief History of the Resurrected Butterfly Top Trend

Y2K butterfly tops are back, baby!

From Mariah Carey to Olivia Rodrigo and Blumarine: here’s a brief history of the resurrected noughties trend.

Low-rise jeans, velour track-suits, and sparkling tooth gems – just a few trends joining the Y2K renaissance that’s taken over fashion. The most recent trend to drop back into the zeitgeist? The butterfly top.

Known for its slinky design, butterfly-shaped bodice, and tied-up open back – the butterfly top first launched into pop culture at the VH1 Divas Live concert in 2000 where Mariah Carey walked the red carpet in a colourful, beaded version. Alongside, the “Obsessed” singer  wore a pair of low-rise jeans (with the waist-band trimmed off, obviously), an overgrown Rachel Green haircut, a metallic mani, and diamante heels. Crafted by self-described “sensual obsessive” French fashion designer Emanuel Ungaro for his Spring 2000 collection, the kitschy top soon rose in popularity – gracing the bodices of celebrities like Salma Hayek and Anna Faris.

Now – 21 years later, when Italian fashion house Blumarine served up a Y2K-themed comeback under its new creative director Nicolas Brognano – butterfly tops were sent down the runway once more in flouncy pinks and light-washed denim alongside other noughties classics. 

Soon after Blumarine’s show, rising pop star Olivia Rodrigo showed off her own thrifted, blue and green sequinned version of the top via Instagram, Saweetie sported a pink sequinned one at a club night, and Dua Lipa posted an asymmetrical rework of the style made by designer Masha Popova.

With most 00s trends, it wasn’t long before it hit the cultural behemoth which is TikTok. So far, #butterflytop has gathered up 14.7 million views on the app, however, a number of videos showcase low-cost versions purchased via fast-fashion sites, such as Shein or AliExpress – looping the trend in with TikTok’s perpetuation of Gen Z overconsumption. 

However, other TikToks under the hashtag feature tutorials on how to DIY the top in different styles, such as using sewing patterns or crochet to emulate Ungaro’s iconic design. In the wise words of Y2K fashion icon Paris Hilton: “That’s hot!”

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