One of the best and most wide-ranging introductions to latex clothing; in this video Racked speaks to designer Kirsten Li, and the amount of ground covered in the short 2 and a half minute duration is surprising.
Besides getting an up-close look at some of Kirsten’s gorgeous designs, Kirsten talks us through the unique appeals of the material and why people love to wear it, beginning with its inherent material qualities, tactile sensation, visual allure and contradictions; its surprises and the misconceptions surrounding it.
Of course, this is placed in the wider context of its impact on those around, namely its shock value or ‘taboo’ status (which itself is often part of the appeal).
We also get a quick insight into the design process – the pattern cutting and glueing – while Kirsten talks us through latex’s natural and green origins, how it’s cared for, and how to put it on.
Last but not least, the dichotomy of fetish and fashion can never be ignored, latex occupying both these spaces due to its great versatility, sensuality and tendency to make a bold statement of avant-garde style. We think it’s rarely a binary issue: its allure and power often lies in a deliberate blurring of the line.
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?
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:
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.
You’ve got to admire the diversity of the audience and maturity with which they approach the event. They take their sketching seriously…
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.
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.
Libidex is one of the biggest UK latex clothing companies, certainly offering the largest range of women’s and men’s clothing I’ve seen, all designed from the company’s own latex sheeting brand: Radical Rubber. With control over the sheet manufacturing process, Libidex are able to price their garments competitively while retaining quality of design. They market to all audiences of latex wear, with entire collections based around either fetish or latex fashion themes; just this summer they launched a new Men’s Fashion Range, and this sits right alongside their ‘Hard & Heavy’ BDSM based collection: a clear message as to the spectrum of latex clothing on offer, and Libidex’s readiness to cater for all.
Simon Rose of Libidex agreed to take part in a Q&A with blogger Kyle Selina of the Dark Shiny Fashion Alternatives Blog, and a recurring theme was this relationship of fetish and fashion, not only from the perspective of Libidex itself but also in the context of wider developments and trends in latex clothing and how it relates to fashion and pop culture.
Can you provide a short bio of your background in fashion?
I am Simon Rose, Libidex owner and creative director and co-founder. I have a Psychology degree from Lancaster University. I am an avid reader, world traveler and latex fashion trendsetter.
How did you discover latex as a material to use in fashion? Did you have a personal interest in wearing latex or was it just a material that you found interesting?
I grew up in a military family and from birth I was surrounded by uniforms, rubberized chemical warfare suits and gas masks (one of my favorite toys). From there I discovered Atomage and early Skin Two magazine and everything fell into place.
At what point did you decide to take your personal interest in latex and transition it to a vocation?
In 1994 I was working with English latex designer pioneer Helen Saffery at Libidex in London. The label was still in its infancy and earlier on I spotted a huge opportunity to take Libidex to the next level making it the fetish powerhouse that it is today.
My inspiration came from the idea of offering customers both fetish and fashion latex clothes in one place.
A business has a number of things that one must deal with that sometimes dim one’s passion. You have rent, insurance, utilities, materials, employee salaries etc. Is the market for latex adequate to balance the pressures of business? What end of the market absorbs more time – the celebrity couture or the consumer market? How do you balance your passion for creativity with the need to be profitable?
Most certainly the consumer market. Celebrity endorsement doesn’t pay our bills in fact we turn away quite a few celebrity requests, from stylists, photographers etc. We just make sure we design popular items that are also creative, fresh and new.
Latex can be described as a “fetish”, a “kink”, “Alternative Fashion” or simply “fashion”. Do you prefer one description over another?
Whatever name people are comfortable with. I like Fetish better. Because that is what it is after all.
It seems many latex outfits are designed to be body hugging. I’ve heard latex referred to as a “Second Skin”. Do you agree that latex should be used for tight outfits or does it lend itself to “loose” outfits? If it’s a “second skin” does it mean it needs to be worn without undergarments? Does that intimidate people from wearing it?
Not necessarily as many designs in our range are loose fitting. For example, our Swing Circle Skirt or Rebelle Dress as well as our Pyjamas to name but a few. Not everyone likes to be squeezed in on tight latex. There are no rules and if there are, I live by the motto the rules are only there to be broken. If you feel freer wearing your latex with nothing underneath that is your own personal choice. The Scottish have done that for centuries. But if you prefer to have pants and bras under your latex garment and that makes you feel good, go for it!
In your experience, how concerned are people about body image when considering fashion choices? Does latex, as a material, help or hinder these decisions?
Do you feel latex tends to express one’s body with honesty as if is was no different than a “second skin” or is it more of a fashionable type of shapewear that fixes a person’s perceived “flaws”?
We have customers of all sizes and we cater for them offering a size range that goes from XXS to 6XL so you will always find something that will suit you. Everyone is different and some people prefer tight fitting catsuits and corsets and others want to be able to breathe and be comfortable while wearing latex, so they should do whatever they feel the most comfortable with. Some people wear it for fetish and some for fashion.
How do you find the market for latex wear distributed between men, women, cross-dressers (men or women), and celebrity couture?
We probably sell a bit more for our male customers, but women buy a lot from us too as do the transgender community. We cater for everyone.
What is your favorite piece of latex that you’ve created in your career for a man and for a woman?
Ummm that’s a hard one but one of my most fun was my Black Betty catsuit which is for all sexes and trans.
People can state that they don’t like latex because of the smell, or because the material doesn’t breathe and they sweat too much, or because it’s too tight or it makes them look like they’re selling sex. How do you address those concerns?
Latex is like marmite you either love or hate it. You can be converted into it by a loved one or a friend but mostly it like a fire that burns you up inside, an uncontrollable desire to dress head to toe in shiny latex.
What is your design philosophy? What drives your creativity?
I have many different sources of inspiration, from classic literature, to films, music, art, period costumes, contemporary fashion. The fetish scene in Europe and its many clubs and events is an endless font of inspiration. Seeing what people are wearing is a fun and fabulous way to come up with new designs and ideas.
Less or More? Do you prefer designing a latex outfit which is more on the revealing side or leaning towards full coverage?
It depends of the occasion, what collection I am working on. More is definitely more.
How do you feel is the best way to integrate latex into an everyday “public” outfit. How would you mix it with other materials?
Latex leggings can be beautifully paired with jackets, or a latex skirt with fabric blouse. Guys can have classic latex jeans in some funky colour with a cotton T-shirt.
What are your goals for your future in latex design?
To keep bringing affordable, exciting and innovative collections to our customers.
What is your favorite part of being a latex fashion designer?
Designing new collections. The research process is very exciting.
What is your “Blue Sky” accomplishment to achieve in the world of latex clothing or fashion in general?
From gluing my first suspender belt in 1990 to the present day, Libidex has had to overcome a huge number of challenges and obstacles. Every collection photographed and each of our fashion shows are always memorable moments. The fact that we are still here, bigger and better and appreciated by rubberists the world over, over 25 years later is what gets me out of bed with a smile on my face.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt stated that “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.” People tend to be fearful of things that are different. They express that fear through aggressive or demeaning behavior towards others to express that their position is superior. Even without external pressure, a person can be fearful due to internal thoughts over how people will react.
This brings us to fashion. You can say the more different something is from the norm, the more people will react negatively. Do you agree with this? Is latex “too different” from what is accepted fashion to be common place? How much more extreme is it than wearing leather? Women often wear leather to corporate jobs. Is latex that much more extreme? Is men’s latex wear more “extreme” than women’s wear?
What do you say to someone who deep down would want to wear latex in public settings?
This is 2017 and latex fashion is everywhere. Pop videos, TV, commercials, youtube, Instagram, and social media have done wonders to remove the stigma associated to latex. And it all depends how you present it. Of course if you turn up in full Dominatrix gear you will raise the wrong kind of attention but if you wear something more fashion orientated, you could be fine even at your work place. Society is changing and so is people’s perception of latex wear.
No I don’t think men’s wear is more extreme than women’s at all.
Go for it, start with something bright and colourful, mix it up with something quirky and you will be fine.
Women’s clothing seems to have such variety. Can men’s latex be as interesting? What are your thoughts on men’s latex fashion?
Yes 100% men’s clothes can be exciting, varied and colourful. The new Male Fashion Collection we are working on at the moment is a testament of that.
You have expanded your line greatly. What drives the expansion?
Demand, our customers always want new styles and designs and as long as there is interest from them we will be more than willing to oblige.
Thank you to Kyle Selina of the Dark Shiny Fashion Alternatives blog for holding the Q&A, and to Simon Rose for his participation.
CocoSori are a Korean pop duo who first came to our attention in 2016 with the release of their first single Dark Circle. The video featured the duo wearing Atsuko Kudo maids’ uniforms in pink and turquoise:
CoCoSoRi would go on to perform live numerous times in the same costumes, sometimes in red or black variants:
For some months all was quiet on their channel, until last week when they announced they had taken to Kickstarter in an effort to fund a new music video. At the time of writing, they have already exceeded their ¥2,000,000 ($17,388) goal with 12 days to go. The Kickstarter page itself is in Japanese, but check out the pitch below also in English:
We congratulate the girls on their successful campaign, though with a slight pang of loss we note that as part of their funding drive the group offered up their latex outfits as rewards for the higher brackets, and these have all been snapped up. And with that, it looks like this is the last we’ll see of the iconic dresses. But who knows, with 12 days to go if the campaign meets some stretch goals maybe there’ll be enough extra cash to fund another trip to London and another Atsuko Kudo shopping spree?!
Watch below to see CoCoSoRi’s original visit to AK for fittings for the famous maid uniforms:
As CNN describes it, The Adorned is a series of short films which “explores the psychology behind extraordinary style”. In these videos, you can find eccentric characters wearing even more eccentric clothing. Elaborate, individual, and eye-catching, the people in these videos often find clothing and dressing up as self-expression and an art form itself, painting life in big, colourful letters. For some, it’s a way of finding inner strength and affirming who they are.
Does any of that sound familiar, latex lovers?
Nange Magro, the designer of Dead Lotus Couture is one of the subjects, and she talks about her background and the influences which led to her creating her unique latex creations, which combine elegance with the theatrical. She also describes the sense of belonging which she feels in being part of the alternative & fetish communities, finding them a welcoming and accepting environment for self-expression to flourish in all its forms.
The video naturally shows her wearing her designs, and also captures well the material’s qualities, such as its unique sound, and with multiple close ups of its high-gloss surface. There is also a ‘transforming’ dress, which is a sight to behold in itself:
I recommend watching the whole series of films, because they are full of positive and inspiring view points, and they expound the philosophy of finding the theatre in life, and playing exactly the role we feel we were born to play, whatever it might be.
Every time I wear an outfit that I made and that is in latex I feel much more myself…you feel more powerful, like you affirm who you are.
There’s a fear of being different, but we are all different inside in one way or the other, so what’s wrong with expressing that difference in the way you present yourself to the world?
Artist Sue Kreitzman, who is battling the beige and the bland by going out in wearable works of art
It is giving full reign to enjoy the opulence of the mind and thinking; That is expressed through the way I dress.
I see my outfits a lot of the time as kind of armour…I don’t think there’s any point in blending in.
Could you wear latex every day for a week? Or maybe just one day, but for every hour between waking and sleeping? These were the challenges set by LatexFashionTV to alternative models Maizy Marzipan and Katex respectively. But that doesn’t mean simply wearing latex around the house – no, that’s far too easy. Maizy and Katex had to wear latex going about their usual lives: out and about in public, meeting friends for coffee or drinks – even attending a job interview!
As part of the challenge, the models vlogged about their experiences. Take a look:
The overarching theme is latex in public, and the reactions it inspires among strangers or friends, the outcome here being positive or (contrary to expectation) wholly neutral. The issue of comfort is also addressed, both in the physical sense and in the sense of confidence and self-consciousness. On the material side, latex is often perceived as uncomfortable, and I believe this is a major misconception about latex which is knocked down here. Regarding the self-image aspect: the wearers’ confidence can, of course, depend on the reactions of others. But I also believe there’s some two-way traffic here, such that a confident, casual attitude can go some way to normalising the outfits, which can relax the attitudes of those around.
Overall, the message is positive and inspiring, whether that be being at ease with your style, however unusual (as Maizy says “I’m gonna rock this!”); being encouraged to push the boat out, or reinforcing an existing love for latex by putting it out there, in big letters.
After 10 years devotion to the mind and spirituality, Damcho Dyson came to the realisation that the mind is not isolated from the corporeal, and rather they are integral to one another. Curiously, in hanging up her robes this journey of reconnection with her body has led her to the wearing of latex.
The story is a curious one because of Damcho Dyson’s background, but her rationale and explanation of how latex makes one mindful of one’s own body will sound familiar to anyone with experience of dressing in the material.
Describing the first time she tried on a latex corset:
The sensation was far beyond what I was expecting and I immediately felt hooked. It enhanced, and even empowered the feeling of being in the body. It was armor like and cocoon like whilst holding me securely like a determined hug.
In acting like a second skin, latex (especially skin-tight latex) makes the wearer continually aware of its total and constant embrace of the body, and as a consequence those parts of the body which it encloses are brought forward into the consciousness. It’s hard to forget you are wearing latex, nor which parts of your body it’s touching.
In fact, as Damcho Dyson points out, latex goes even further and can actually amplify touch sensation:
Experientially, both [robes and latex] are immersive and take some commitment and conviction to wear. Whilst the yards of layered fabric of Tibetan monastic robes shroud the body, tight fitting latex — sometimes referred to by wearers as a second skin — reveals the body. The former almost anaesthetises the wearer against identifying with the shape and form of the body […] Whilst the latter enhances the form both through its fit and also through the way in which the ‘second skin’ amplifies touch sensation.
The full interview is fascinating, and Damcho Dyson draws further comparisons and contrasts between monastic practice and dressing in latex, including in ritual and meditation. Read at the Huffington Post here.