At Monday’s CFDA Fashion Awards, pop star Rihanna took the stage to accept the Fashion Icon Award from the grande dame of fashion — Vogue editor Anna Wintour.
Never one to dress demurely, the Barbadian beauty wore a sheer gown designed by Adam Selman that exposed everything except her Social Security number — most notably, her nipples.
“This wasn’t a wardrobe malfunction,” celebrity stylist Phillip Bloch told The Post. “It was intentional. You could not have done that on a red carpet years ago. A stylist would lose their job if there was a nipple showing.”
But while Rihanna’s bare skin was deemed appropriate for an awards ceremony, that hasn’t been the case on social media.
In April, photo-sharing app Instagram suspended the 26-year-old singer’s account after a topless picture shot for French fashion magazine Lui appeared in her feed. While Instagram insisted that the dust-up was a mistake, Rihanna ultimately deleted her account, which had more than 35 million followers.
Which raises the possibility that the CFDA dress choice was more of a protest than a fashion moment.
She’s just the latest celebrity fighting Instagram for its habit of removing images of bare breasts as part of its controversial anti-nudity rule.
Last week, Hollywood progeny Scout Willis took a topless stroll in the East Village to protest Instagram, which had kicked her off its site for posting a snap of a jacket emblazoned with a photo of two topless women.
“What @instagram won’t let you see #FreeTheNipple,” she tweeted.
After her breast-baring stunt, Willis penned an essay for XoJane.com defending herself and bashing Instagram’s sexist policy.
“There are also some people who would criticize my choice to relate nipples with equality at all,” she wrote. “To me, nipples seem to be at the very heart of the issue. In the 1930s, men’s nipples were just as provocative, shameful, and taboo as women’s are now, and men were protesting in much the same way. In 1930, four men went topless to Coney Island and were arrested. In 1935, a flash mob of topless men descended upon Atlantic City, 42 of whom were arrested. Men fought and they were heard, changing not only laws but social consciousness. And by 1936, men’s bare chests were accepted as the norm.
It’s an issue that is getting increasing, ahem, exposure as the nipple continues to seep into the consciousness of the fashion world.
Rihanna wore a mesh top without a bra to the Balmain show in February, Miley Cyrus posed topless for W magazine that same month and, on Sunday, Nicki Minaj sported a mesh shirt over star pasties that just barely obscured her areolas.
“I think people like Rihanna are trying to break down those boundaries, and some people will like it and some people will call her a sinner. But [Rihanna] is gorgeous. She’s in her prime and not doing anything that Madonna wouldn’t have done 20 years ago, if she could have gotten away with it,” says Bloch, adding that as risqué as her Madgesty was, she never flashed her nipples on the red carpet.
Previously on FOX411's Four4Four
Princess Kate's Bare Bum EXPOSED
Should Beyonce Ditch Her Sis?
'Boob Grabber' Rebecca Grant Cashes In