Not the vagabond kind, but the Bettie Page kind. Much to the delight of some men drooling by the bar, she was sporting spray-on jeans, a lowcut ribbed vest, killer heels and a cropped leather biker jacket with fetish-looking zips. She had accessorised with an unlit fag and immaculate red lipstick.
Had Halloween come early, I wondered, mindful that – according to the film Mean Girls, at least – it’s the one night of the year when a good girl can dress like a vamp and not be thought a total whore? But no. Tuning into The X Factor to see Cheryl Cole launch her new single, what did I find? The songstress had transformed herself into a lascivious sex bomb. A pocket square of sheer gauze and some peek-a-boo harem pants were all that stood between her naughty bits and 13 million viewers in Britain. And there was that red lippie again.
It confirmed what I’d suspected for a while: the sex bomb is back. In Paris, an exhibition to mark Brigitte Bardot’s 75th birthday is drawing thousands of visitors to Boulogne-Billancourt . Meanwhile, Megan Fox, the star of Transformers, has been drafted in for the next bout of adverts for Armani underwear. Elsewhere in fashion, the Dutch model Lara Stone is flavour of the month. Stone reeks of sex (in a good way), is practically a Bardot mark II.
Sex bombs seem to be having more of a blast than waifs. Take Fox, the 23-yearold star of the new thriller Jennifer’s Body. She talks a good game. “I’m just really confident sexually,” she said breathlessly in a recent interview. “I think that sort of oozes out of my pores. It’s just there. It’s something I don’t have to turn on.”
Interestingly, while the sex-bomb look obviously fulfils most male fantasies it isn’t entirely about appealing to the chaps. This isn’t the case of Eva Herzigova’s “Hello Boys” lingerie ads, which worked on the principle that if men thought she looked hot, then women would buy her bra to please them. The Noughties bombshell mostly crops up on fashion magazines. Men aren’t even privy to their wondrous curves and smouldering gazes. It’s a girl thing. So why do women want to be so slaggy all of a sudden?
“There is a point when dressing for men doesn’t work,” says Sam, 28, back in the pub. “Your average man just wants you to wear something cutesy, and I didn’t like that, so I grew up wanting to be grungy and like Kate Moss. Now I want to be a Robert Palmer girl,” she says. Ironically, it’s done wonders for her in the getting-chatted-up stakes. “You have to be a woman, not a girl, to pull it off. That’s what makes it so great. Plus we’re bored with trying to be tiny all the time. All the best girls in the shows this season had a bit of a boob, a bit of a waist. I’d rather look sexier, like I’m having fun.”
Be careful not to get so smoking that you alienate the sisterhood, as Megan Fox found out to her cost. “I come across as confident and assume that means that I think I’m hot shit,” she said, uncharmingly, of the reason her female fans are few. “That makes them feel bad about themselves and so they hate me.”
Tut, tut. Bad sex bomb.