IN PICTURES: the hottest hot pants in history

Catherine Edwards
Catherine Edwards - [email protected]
IN PICTURES: the hottest hot pants in history
Photo: Christophe Simon/AFP

Italian fashion designer Mariuccia Mandelli, who is credited with inventing hot pants, died on Monday aged 90. The Local takes a look at the legacy of her creation.


Mandelli was a risk-taker, having left a secure teaching job to fulfill her dream of working as a fashion designer and beginning her business from a two-room flat in Milan.

Her daring nature showed in her designs, which ignored contemporary trends and embraced pleats, animal motifs and - of course - hot pants. Mandelli was one of the pioneers of the iconic shorts, along with designers including British Mary Quant, and won the Tiberio d'oro award when she debuted the look at Capri.

Mandelli at her label, Krizia's fashion show. Photo: Giuseppe Cacace/AFP

The trend soon spread around the globe, with hot pants infiltrating all areas of culture from haute couture to the high street. 


Hot pants quickly became hot property on the catwalk and were featured heavily in fashion bible Vogue, before finding their way onto the high street. Even knitted versions proved popular.

The trend spread to the UK, where one town held a Miss Hot Pants competition (and a male equivalent), as documented by this newspaper clipping.

But was there really a need for inflatable Wonder Sauna Hot Pants?


Nadia Cassini, an actress famous for roles in films in the 'commedia sexy' genre, including  L'infermiera nella corsia dei militari (The nurse in the military madhouse).

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes Screenshot/Wikimedia Commons - Public Domain

Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.


Brands realized the potential of the shorts and used them to advertise products from jeans to motorbikes and even air travel - Texas-based Southwest Airlines introduced a uniform featuring bright orange hot pants (see the video below). Also offering drinks called Love Potions on their flights, the airline clearly believed in the motto 'sex sells' and refused to hire male cabin crew members until the company was sued for discrimination in the 1980s.

The garment even inspired a Singaporean musical, called, well, Hot Pants. How many fashion designers can claim that?
The opening song even contains the line 'hotpants and butterflies and rainbows colour my dreams'.

Despite the abundance of hot pants on the catwalk and high street, some people preferred to make their own, as documented by these vintage patterns. 

Photo: Jeff Robbins/Flickr

Photo: Lisa Yarost/Flickr
The Dukes of Hazzard
Anyone who thought hot pants were nothing more than a '70s fad was proved wrong when they became a trademark of US TV show The Dukes of Hazzard, which ran from 1979 to 1985. Catherine Bach wore denim shorts in many of her appearances as Daisy, cousin of the show's two main characters. Here's one of her costumes, now on display in an American museum.

Photo: Tracie Hall/Wikimedia Commons

Present-day fashion

Mandelli clearly saw no reason to change a design that still worked - here a model wears leather hot pants by Mandelli's label Krizia at Milan Fashion Week in 2004. 

Photo: Patrick Hertzog/AFP

Below, Dolce & Gabbana incorporate hot pants into their 2010-2011 Fall/Winter collection. Yes, you read that right - winter. 

Photo: Filippo Monteforte/AFP

Photo: Filippo Monteforte/AFP

Kylie takes hot pants for a spin

The gold pair of shorts worn by Kylie Minogue in the video for her single Spinning Around might be the most famous pair on this list. Bought in an Oxfam shop by her creative director for just 50p, the hot pants were donated to Melbourne's Performing Artists Museum last year.

Hot pants for men
Hot pants are still hot stuff in the advertising world, but this decade, many brands are subverting gender norms by putting men in shorts to sell their product. In the below video, a UK insurance comparison brand tries to sex up their brand by dressing 'Dave' in Daisy Duke-esque shorts.
But hot pants are not always such a good choice for advertisers. In July, a group of men dressed in leather shorts to promote salad (no, we don't see the link either) in Beijing were confronted by police when they marched through the city's streets handing out lettuce.
So whatever happens to Krizia, which she sold to Chinese designer and entrepreneur Zhu Chongyun in 2014, the hot pant ensures Mariuccia Mandelli's place in the cultural canon is assured.


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