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Look of the Week: Willow Smith makes strong case for ultra-low-rise pants

<i>Michael Tran/AFP/Getty Images</i><br/>US singer Willow Smith arrives for the premiere of Apple Original Films'
AFP via Getty Images
Michael Tran/AFP/Getty Images
US singer Willow Smith arrives for the premiere of Apple Original Films' "Emancipation" at the Regency Village Theatre in Westwood

Jacqui Palumbo, CNN

The Smith family returned to the red carpet on Wednesday for the premiere of Will Smith’s new film “Emancipation,” after several low-profile months following his now-infamous Oscars slap. And while nearly everyone showed up in a bold look, from Jada’s billowing white high-low gown to Jaden’s black-and-white photograph-printed suit, it was 22-year-old Willow who stood out for her melancholic-chic styling, black cropped waistcoat and hip-baring, crystal-embellished trousers.

Willow’s outfit came straight from Stella McCartney’s summer 2023 collection, previously worn by Bella Hadid on the runway. But where Hadid was styled with sandals in a more summery look, Smith made it edgier with pointed platform creepers. With a black, wavy asymmetrical bob, bleached eyebrows and smokey eyeshadow, Smith embodied an elegant take on 1990s alt style — her MO as of late as she’s ventured musically into rock.

In an Instagram post showing her look, The Smashing Pumpkins — with whom she recently performed — dropped a melted-face emoji, while singer Kyle Dion simply wrote: “PANTSssssss.”

Though Smith’s outfit drew plenty of praise, the return of low-riders has been divisive. While Gen Z has merrily cycled through ’90s and Y2K fashions, embracing this look too, millennial women have generally met the returning trend with disdain, having sought comfort in high-waisted alternatives following an era of ruthless jean cuts and unhealthy body-image expectations. Britney Spears, Paris Hilton and Keira Knightley may have perfected the red-carpet torso-baring look two decades ago, but they didn’t have to deal with the annoyance of hiking up their so-called “dangerously low” jeans to sit down in class or on public transportation.

Hadid, Emily Ratajkowski, Julia Fox and Kendall Jenner have all stepped out in hip-huggers within the past year and a half, stirring fashion writers into a frenzy. “For Goodness’ Sake, Please Let Us Not Return to Low-Rise Jeans” begged Vogue in October 2021 before admitting defeat in the form of “17 Pairs of Low-Rise Jeans to Consider Rocking This Season,” published less than a year later. A flurry of headlines from Vox and Refinery29 to the New York Times have all been tinged with anxiety. (Vox advised: “Don’t Panic.”)

Despite the resurgence, trouser and jeans styles have yet to return to a single dominant silhouette since Gen Z effectively declared skinny jeans dead. Mid-, high- and low-rise styles have all seemingly made their way onto shop floors signaling that, perhaps, there is room for more than one type of rise this decade. Then we can all appreciate Smith and Hadid’s low-slung styles without the baggage — they don’t have room for pockets, anyway.

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