sakuraflor latex

A superhero’s wardrobe

We’ve all been there: you step out of the shower or roll out of the bed in your birthday suit and wonder – just which outfit do you put on to make you feel like a superhero, ready to kick ass and take on anything the day might throw at you?

 

 

That’s right – there can be only one choice. A common reaction to hear from those who try latex is that it makes them feel super-powered. Is it any wonder that it’s become such a popular material for cosplay as well as superhero costumes on film? For the superhero look and feel – a real transformation, not just in appearance –  accept no substitute.

We’re not sure how the Hatona project will evolve after this fun teaser, but we know it stars vlogger and cosplayer Sakuraflor. On her youtube channel you can see the finished costume makes a small appearance in most of her videos, but our favourite video is this fitting for the costume by Wendy Rubbella, in which Sakuraflor tries latex for the first time and becomes an immediate fan.

 

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Dr. Sketchy’s Anatomy Edition

From what I gathered from both the official site and their Wikipedia page, Dr Sketchy’s Anti-Art School is a collective which stages live events combining burlesque cabaret with life drawing, under the name ‘alternative drawing’.

Now, if that doesn’t already sound like a genius combination, might we interest you with the addition of some latex into this mad cocktail?

 

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Dr. Sketchy’s is a big success, with local branches in over a hundred cities worldwide. This was “Dr. Sketchy’s Anatomy Edition” run by the Belgium branch at the end of September, and advertised as “Anatomical Theater […] guided by an adorable nurse with pin-up curves.” It was not only said nurse but also her assistants and even the male cadaver who were outfitted in latex for the occasion:

 

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Besides being a risque fetish-fantasy favourite, the latex nurse garb fits the subject matter in a perversely practical way. Actually, I’m reminded of the latex overalls worn by the very hands-on scientists in Westworld when carrying out their similarly messy work. In that scenario, the latex, besides its blood-splatter-proof utility, was also an image of the future. Here, it joins up the theatrical with the titillating.

This being a life drawing class (albeit with a difference) nudity can only be expected. Yet opting for transparent latex is an especially inspired choice, allowing as it does for both nudity and at the same time provide for the kind of theatrical stage costume befitting of the characters and performance.

 

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You’ve got to admire the diversity of the audience and maturity with which they approach the event. They take their sketching seriously…

 

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Latex as a texture presents a number of difficulties when rendering it to the page, trying to capture how it falls and reflects light. I’m not even an amateur artist, but I guess transparent latex brings with it a whole set of its own challenges. It’s interesting seeing how the participants approach drawing and painting latex in their own individual ways.

 

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You can find a lot more photos and artwork from the event on the facebook page for Dr. Sketchy’s Belgium.

Costumes used during the event were made by Cadavre Exquis Couture, and the transparent nurse uniform – the very one worn during the event by model Laura Borremans – is for sale at a reduced sample price via their Etsy store.

 

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Just what the doctor ordered.

 

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Visions of a latex future

With the release of Katy Perry’s video for new single Chained to the Rhythm, Katy proved she was just as reliable as ever for providing some latex sightings from pop culture. I personally like it when the latex outfits in music videos are congruous with the art direction as a whole, as opposed to pure titillation, and that’s very much what we’ve got here.

 

 

The video presents a Brave New World style dystopia, and readily apparent is the sheer amount shiny, reflective clothing prevalent, not all of it latex. For her part, Katy is wearing white capri leggings by Vex Clothing in the first segment of the video. They are barely seen under her dress, but I guess being such a latex fanatic that didn’t matter to Katy and she wanted them to be latex anyway. The white body she wears in the same section may or may not be latex, but the black body in the latter half of the video definitely is, made by Kim West.

One of the persistent conceptions of latex clothing is that it’s in some sense futuristic, perhaps due to its otherworldliness. You can see that it’s obviously clothing, but not at all like the clothing we’re used to in our day to day lives. And I suppose that’s what sci-fi does: to take what we know and recognise and twist it slightly so it has the feeling of belonging to another time and place. Latex also fits into that vague notion of the ‘chrome’ future: a world shiny, reflective and metallic. Perhaps a bit cold, a bit distant, but sleek, streamlined, extremely cool, extremely stylish and in some sense an evolution. Advanced clothing for an advanced generation.

 

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Monica Belucci and Carrie-Anne Moss from the Matrix film trilogy. Much more latex was featured in the films, such is in the Club Hel scene from Matrix Revolutions.

 

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More recently, Westworld featured these latex lab coats. Read more about them here.


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 evangelion latex cosplay 

Above: cosplayer Omi-K-Gibson wearing Andromeda Latex. Left to right: cosplayers Maria Khanna, Stella Chuus and Jessienoochies. Video game and anime characters inspire plenty of sci-fi themed latex cosplayers. See more in our cosplay posts here and here.

 

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Jupiter Ascending featured costumes by House of Harlot. Latex is often chosen for cybernetic characters, being able to convey a kind of flawless sheen which is at the same time quite human and organic.

 

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Another latex cyborg, from the 2013 film The Machine. Catsuit by Libidex.

 

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Westworld was not the first to do latex lab coats. Terry Gilliam is known for his imaginative and well-realised dystopias, and 2013’s The Zero Theorem featured lots of latex, also by House of Harlot.

 

beyonce-solange_met-party-latex2016And finally, future-inspired fashion, in perhaps last year’s most high-profile latex outing. The theme for Met Gala 2016 was “Manus X Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology” which inspired Beyonce and her sister Solange to wear latex. More pictures of Beyonce’s gown here.

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Latex cosplay part II: Interpretation

In part 1, I looked at how certain fictional characters have been portrayed wearing latex outfits in official adaptations or promotions, and how that has inspired cosplayers to run with the theme and wear their own latex outfits when cosplaying those characters. In part 2, we will look at latex cosplay as artistic interpretation!

More often than not, characters are never officially portrayed wearing latex per se, instead they could be wearing any non-descript figure-hugging material. It could be anything from lycra to latex, spandex to vinyl, or even some fictitious material so long as it is skin tight, potentially reflective, and looks fabulous framing an heroic stance!

If we’re absolutely honest, if your job title is Crime Fighter instead of latex you would probably wear one of those other, more practical and breathable materials. But cosplayers never let that these boring practical considerations get in the way of a cool and sexy rubber outfit! Latex may not be the best choice for fighting off super villains, but it certainly is more figure-hugging, more fantastical, more futuristic, more eye-catching. In short, perfect for bringing larger-than-life fictional characters to reality.

This is how it’s done:

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This stunning cosplay is a result of a collaboration between Blackwater Cosplay and photographer Paul Hillier, costume by Kink Engineering. More on Paul Hillier’s blog.

 

EDI: The above cosplay is of the character EDI from the game Mass Effect. EDI is an artificial intelligence inhabiting a humanoid robot body. As you’d expect, the effect is something living yet cold, metallic yet alien. This is no bulky, armoured robot, but sleek and feminine. I haven’t seen a better interpretation of this than with latex, which can achieve the metallic sheen and sci-fi look while keeping something quite organic and human about itself.

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Cosplayer Crystal Graziano. The sheer effort required of EDI cosplayers can only be admired.

 

Miranda Lawson: Mass Effect is ripe pickings for latex cosplay. There’s no denying Miranda Lawson’s outfit has a sheen to it, besides fitting like a glove.

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Left to right: The cosplayer Berceck who makes her own costumes; Fiona Gamble (girlfriend of Bioware producer Mike Gamble); cosplayer AlienOrihara. The latter two are designs by Andromeda Latex, who are quite a force in latex cosplay design, and in fact they make costumes for most of the characters featured in this article.

 

Superman/Supergirl: Superman’s outfit is so tight in the comics you can see the exact muscle definition bulging through like he’s some kind of anatomical drawing (of a super strong alien humanoid, I mean). When you need an outfit this tight, there’s only one material to opt for. It’s no wonder latex Superman and Supergirl outfits are some of the most popular latex cosplay costumes.

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Top: unknown cosplayers wearing Lady Lucie custom outfits. Bottom: model for Poison Candy Latex (now closed).

 

Ms Marvel & Mary Marvel: Over to Marvel now, for their take on the superheroine. The character designs and costumes of Ms. Marvel and Mary Marvel are nearly identical so I’ll group them together. As you can see, there is quite a strong similarity to latex in some of the artwork for Ms. Marvel. When a character’s costume is coloured black in the comics its reflective properites are only heightened. And considering this is another extremely tight outfit, Ms. Marvel and Mary Marvel cosplayers are being pretty faithful to the source in choosing latex for their costume.

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Left to right: Cosplay and glamour model Marie-Claude Bourbonnais as Ms. Marvel; cosplayer Captain Irachka as Ms. Marvel; cosplayer Riddle as Mary Marvel

 

Harley Quinn: Harley Quinn cosplay has boomed since a modern interpretation of her featured in the recent Suicide Squad movie. But it’s the classic bodyhugging jester’s outfit from the comics that is a better choice for latex loving Harley cosplayers.

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Left to right: Berceck in another home-made costume; alternative model and cosplayer Evilyn13; unknown model for Dyonya photoworks

But of course every costume can be interpreted in latex, and Margot Robbie’s Harley is no exception:

 

 

Venom: From the Spider-Man comics, Venom is an alien life form with a black oil slick-like consistency that joins with human hosts to transform into a hulking, black costumed monster covered in white spider motifs. Creative cosplayers combine latex catsuits with liquid latex to recreate the effect of the skin tight costume having a life of its own, extending gooey tendrils as it subsumes its host.

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Left & centre: Costume by Adala Clothing who make lots of latex cosplay outfits; right: catsuit with face painting 

 

The best of the rest from American comics: Sue Storm, Captain America & Spider-Girl, Rogue, and Lady Deadpool

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Lady Deadpool by cosplayer Fenix Targaryen, other cosplayers unknown

 

Neon Genesis Evangelion: Over to Japan now. In the anime Neon Genesis Evangelion, the characters wear a high-tech suit called a plugsuit, which is made from an unknown form fitting material that moulds to the wearer’s exact shape. If that is not the perfect description of a custom made latex catsuit, often described as feeling like a second-skin, then I don’t know what is. And indeed, latex plugsuits are quite a staple cosplay outfit.

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Top left and center: Idol Ushijima Iiniku; top right: Socksy Cosplay. Bottom: Ardent Absol as Rei, Sydabee Cosplay as Mari, and Nerdy Neko Cosplay as Asuka 

 

Totally Spies: This actually looks a good deal like latex to me. I didn’t know about Totally Spies so I did some research, and it appears the spies spend about half of their time tied up. This is what makes me think they could actually be wearing latex catsuits after all, because squeaking, brightly-coloured, reflective catsuits are about as stealthy as a full suit of chainmail, hence an excellent way of ensuring you get yourself caught in every episode.

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Cosplayer Polligulina

 

Celty Sturluson a.k.a. The Black Rider: We’ll end on another anime character, The Headless Rider (among her other names), from the show Durarara. According to the Durarara wiki, her clothing is “made from a shadow-like substance that materialises around her at will”. I don’t think it has the texture of latex, nor is it as tight and reflective. But looking at the photos of the anonymous cosplayer that follow you will quickly forget all about that and agree with me on one thing: artistic interpretation is rather grand.

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Latex in Westworld

If you’re keeping up with current HBO series Westworld you can’t fail to have noticed the full-length white gowns, topped with red/clear apron and red sleeve protectors worn by the lab technicians Felix and Sylvester. The whole entirely latex ensemble is surely as eye-catching as it is blood splatter proof.

Leonardo Nam and Ptolemy Slocum, the actors who play the lab technicians, have given an interview to The Hollywood Reporter where they were asked, first and foremost, about their on screen uniforms:

HR: Let’s start with the most important matter at hand: the lab tech uniform. How uncomfortable is the costume, Ptolemy?

Slocum: It’s actually absolutely fantastic. It’s way better than it looks. From what I know about it, it was designed by a latex shop. It’s not some random design. It’s a very human design. And there are no zippers, no latches, nothing. It’s all magnets. When you slip it on, you can basically throw it and it catches onto itself. It’s like wearing the future. It feels very cool and weird and has this human skin feel to it, and this weight to it. I actually loved it.

Nam: It’s like putting on a second skin. That latex is so malleable. It sticks right to your skin. I loved it. The magnet part was very cool. It’s all held together by magnets.

There you have it, they absolutely loved wearing them! Of course, their experience echoes those who have tried latex before. We love it for feeling like a second skin, sticking to us and moulding to our shape. For feeling cool and weird. For it being in some way futuristic; larger than life.

No surprises the production contracted a professional latex outfitter to do the work (Syren). But what especially interests me is the method of using magnets as fasteners, a technique I’ve never heard of in latex clothing before. Latex designers are endlessly innovating so it wouldn’t surprise me to see this one make its way over to more wearable and fashion oriented latex clothing. And that really would be like wearing the future.

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Latex Cosplay part I: Official Costumes

Latex is a hugely popular material when it comes to dressing up as characters from films, games, anime or comics, topping its popularity even among the fashionistas on the red carpet. In this three-part post, I’ll look into the different reasons why latex is perfect for dressing as something right out of fiction, with examples to illustrate the point (that’s what you came for, right?)

I find that we can class latex cosplay under three umbrellas, the first of which this post shall deal with: authenticity.

The argument of authenticity goes as follows: the character actually wears latex, or is portrayed wearing latex in official promotions/advertisements. This is a cool category, because the movie and advertising budgets are usually high, and the costume department has money and a team of costume designers to work with. These act together towards creating a latex outfit that looks incredible on screen, but is also faithful to the imaginations of the original character artists. In the process, they often commission some of the top latex designers to bring their visions to reality. The end result is an iconic costume which inspires cosplayers to copy the latex look in order to be as faithful to their on-screen counterparts as possible.

The most iconic example has to be, of course, Michelle Pfeiffer’s Catwoman. This costume was made for the 1992 movie Batman Returns and features a white stitching effect, which was actually glued on to the catsuit afterwards. About 40 catsuits were made for the production by Syren Couture. Original costume designer Mary Vogt talks more about the process here. It remains the favoured portrayal of Catwoman today, in no small part due to the iconic costume (and another part due to the dire 2004 movie starring Halle Berry).

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Doutzen Kroes as Catwoman

 

Silk Spectre II: For the movie adaptation of the graphic novel Watchmen, the sheer, flowing costume of Silk Spectre II was interpreted as figure hugging transparent latex. Not the only example of artistic liberty with the adaptation, I’m sure, but one which I don’t think I’d be complaining about even if I had read the source. Once again, it was Syren on hand to make the costume a reality, which Malin Akerman wore to play Silk Spectre II.

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Annissë Damefatale creates her own latex cosplay outfits. Left and centre as Silk Spectre II; right as Silk Spectre.

 

Lara Croft: Eidos started a trend by making the vest of the official Lara models out of latex. As far as I know, this began with the second Lara model in 1997, Rhona Mitra. Despite a rubber vest being about as impractical for an acrobatic treasure hunter as freakishly large, triangular breasts, the turquoise latex top became a mainstay for over ten years and at least seven different Lara models. It was partly because of sex appeal that got Lara Croft so famous, and a skin-tight vest played up to that.

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Official model Lara Weller as Lara Croft
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Cosplayer Jenn Croft as Lara Croft

 

Samus Aran: The Star of Nintendo’s Metroid series. Nintendo made a latex suit canon by having their actress wear one in an advert for Metroid: Other M. Ever since, latex has been a standard choice of material to cosplay Samus wearing the blue ‘Zero Suit’. Thanks, Ninty!

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Left to right: cosplayers Crystal Graziano, Zadra, and Heather84

 

Selene: A vampire from the Underworld series of films played by Kate Beckinsale. It seems Kate has yet to tire of the black latex catsuit her character slinks around in, squeezing into it for a fifth time for next year’s Underworld: Blood Wars. Selene, along with trademark catsuit, is unique amongst the other characters mentioned here, because she was only ever an original creation for the Underworld movie series, as opposed to an adaptation from other media.

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Kate Beckinsale as Selene
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The cosplayer Miss Ecchi/Hardware as Selene

 

Psylocke: This summer’s X-Men: Apocalypse saw Olivia Munn’s Psylocke wear a latex version of the iconic blue ninja costume. Credit once again goes to Syren, the go-to designers for live action comic book characters’ outfits. Though interestingly, cosplayers have long preempted the movie by wearing latex Psylocke costumes. It seems only a natural choice for the skin tight, reflective costume Psylocke appears to be wearing in the X:Men comics.

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Olivia Munn as Psylocke

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Left to right: cosplayers Linda Le, Psylockemodel, and Lady Devann

 

And that brings this instalment to a close. Next time, we will look at the second category of latex cosplay, whereby the characters are never officially portrayed wearing latex, yet cosplayers find inspiration in the skin tight, often reflective non-descript materials their favourite characters are seen wearing – much like the case with Psylocke above, prior to the movie making the latex interpretation ‘official’. Until next time.