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Nicki Minaj

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From burlesque to Lil' Kim: The history of the nipple pasty

Ever since the late 19th century, nipple pasties have been associated with all things erotic.

The adhesive covers used to protect a woman’s modesty first originated from a fascination with the oriental. Exotic belly dancers began sporting metal discs on their breasts in the late 1800s with circuses soon taking on the sensual displays.

As the striptease became more mainstream, new nudity laws were enforced to encourage both genders to attend the major burlesque shows. This meant that dancers were required to wear nipple pasties to avoid an arrest.

Until the 1950s, pasties were used to fight censorship with more and more designs – some with those well-known tassels – popping up. In certain states, dancers hit back at seriously strict laws by attaching a piece of string to their pasties, transforming the nearly-nude look into a bikini.

Then a sudden decline in the burlesque industry took place. People became less interested until the 1990s revival of the shows featuring stars such as Dita Von Teese and her infamous champagne glass routine.

At the 1999 VMAs, Lil Kim took the nipple pasty to the red carpet wearing *that* one-shouldered lilac jumpsuit. (Miley Cyrus later recreated the look for Halloween).

Along with wearing nude-coloured ones under sheer dresses, celebrities have bravely donned pasties at premieres and awards shows ever since.

Recently, Nicki Minaj went for a truly revealing look on the front row of Haider Ackermann’s Paris show. Anthony Vaccarello also kickstarted a glitter nipple trend thanks to his heart-shaped pasties at Saint Laurent’s SS17 show.

For us less showy folk, the nipple pasty has transformed into a lingerie staple available at pretty much any retailer, having appeared in decades’ worth of fetish photography.

From lowbrow to highbrow, here’s just a few famous pasties that have made their public debut.

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