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‘Oryol i Reshka’ visits Inner Sanctum, Hamburg

‘Oryol i Reshka is the Russian term for ‘Heads and Tails’ and the name of a Ukrainian travel series broadcast in the Russian language. Wikipedia explains the premise (and origin of the show’s title):

Oryol i Reshka is hosted by two co-hosts. In each episode, the show visits another location in the world for one weekend. One of the hosts (determined by a coin toss) receives a credit card with unlimited credit (in practice, this has been limited to US$30,000 per day), called the Gold Card, while the other has to spend the weekend with US$100 including all expenses.

Naturally, if you find yourself in one of the great European cities with a $30,000 daily spend and you don’t immediately seek out the finest latex boutique on offer then you are an utter disgrace! Thankfully, Oryol i Reshka didn’t drop the ball here, and so it was left to host Masha to visit Inner Sanctum Latex and find something for the weekend.

The show is wonderfully lighthearted and tongue-in-cheek, with Masha play-acting the naive but curious host, who perhaps gets the wrong idea about latex clothing.

We’ve uploaded our own copy to be able to include English subtitles (unfortunately it has automatically been flagged as Age Restricted so you may need to log into Dailymotion to see the video. Otherwise, you can watch the original without subtitles here.)

 

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Tartuffe by Molière

In Germany, a modern stage production of the comedy Tartuffe has been running which makes use of a wardrobe almost entirely of latex.

I’m not familiar with the play so can’t comment in terms of symbolism, but combined with the plastic hair it seems the intent was to etch out cartoon characters of a sort, dropping them into the minimalist void of the set design (indeed, I’m even reminded of the 90s band the Cartoons, with their fake hair and bright, solid colour suits!). Outfits for the play were made by fetish clothing company DeMasK.

Trailer:

 

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More pictures here.

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Fall/Winter 2018 Fashion Collections

For years we’ve seen the occasional daring fashion house incorporate a bit of latex into their collections. It’s somewhat rarer to see those designs actually make the leap from the catwalk into wardrobes. This is not surprising, given that said latex is often included as part of highly conceptual or themed collections, designed more as artistic showpieces than wearable fashion.

The extreme example of this would be the Moschino Fall 2018 collection. Hoods and catsuits were employed for a full coverage fetish look, the idea being to strip away gender identity; the latex acting more like a ‘canvas’ of sorts for the designer’s own creations.

 

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Nina Ricci’s collection from the same fall/winter period takes an altogether different tack, and incorporates latex into the kind of looks that even terrestrial beings from the year 2018 might be expected to wear as high fashion. Slippery, high gloss, skintight blacks give way to flowing, sumptuous, silky bronze and silvers. Instead of hoods and catsuits, there are capes, coats and skirts for integrating with other fabrics and textures – all topped off with details such as stitched seams and metal fasteners.

 

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Watching the video above, we see latex amidst other smooth, reflective materials – such as silks and satins – and fitting right in. This is latex assuming its place as a material which designers can employ to convey luxury, sensuality and sophistication – just as well as they might use it to convey sex and fetishism in other designs, for other occasions.

And there is already at least one celebrity fan: Rita Ora, who has been snapped in New York having a Marilyn Monroe moment, with a latexy twist.

 

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Tina Karol on The Voice Ukraine

Towards the end of 2017, Ukraine’s most famous singer, Tina Karol, appeared on various TV shows, in interviews, at events and performances wearing no less than six different latex outfits. It was as though Tina had gone on a shopping spree in Atsuko Kudo and couldn’t wait to show the world what she’d found. You can read our bumper post about Tina here.

Not even the great ambassadors for latex couture – the Lady Gaga’s, The Katy Perry’s, The Kardashian’s – not even they have worn so much latex in so short a time. After this all-out media assault in rubber you may think that Tina Karol would have hung up the latex for a while and given her skin some time to breathe.

Oh but you’d be wrong.

 

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Latex passions die hard, and Tina was just getting warmed up.

From February through April, the Ukrainian version of The Voice aired its 8th series, on which Tina sat as one of the judges. Over these months, there were six studio recordings spanning fourteen episodes – and Tina wore a latex dress in every single one of them. 

We had to check whether Atsuko Kudo were official sponsors of The Voice that year!

We tracked down episodes of The Voice and edited together the highlights of each episode, showing off the best of each of Tina’s dresses. Even the edited highlights clock in at 40 minutes – that’s a lot of latex!

 

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Skip to the following times to see the different outfits: #2 8:03, #3 19:07, #4 26:54, #5 28:11, #6 33:24. Image credits: @goloskrainy_official and @tinakarol_fantina

 

 

Special note to 26:54, where not only does Tina perform in her latex but she is also surrounded by four dancers in black catsuits! That’s a lot of latex! – Have we said that already?

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Jess Glynne returns with another latex look

In her comeback single, Jess Glynne wears a casual two-piece latex outfit. The song’s logo – a Bird of Paradise flower – is emblazoned on the jacket, revealing this to be a custom design. The fabulous handiwork none other than Atsuko Kudo’s.

 

 

We see this style as a kind of encapsulation of everything that can bring latex out into the open; whether that be to a whole new audience – an audience that may be fashion conscious and fetish wary – or to existing latex lovers looking for opportunities to wear their favourite material outside of the clubs.

The outfit is bright and colourful. The baby blue is a gentle colour, innocent even, as opposed to more in-your-face and fetish associated black latex outfits.

The fit and style of the outfit is familiar and casual, the like of which we’d expect to see rendered in any other material – here it just happens to be rubber. The design, using contrasting side stripes and a prominent logo, also evokes the familiarity of branded sportswear.

Mixing and matching: Although this is a head to toe latex outfit, the look is broken up with an ordinary fabric crop top, front and centre. By wearing the jacket open and framing the crop top, it kind of moves the latex out more to the periphery, moderating the effect of a bold material choice.

 

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This choice of outfit didn’t just come out of the blue, and in fact Jess Glynne is no stranger to latex. Back when she was making waves with her debut album in 2014-15 she wore latex on several occasions in different combinations.

 

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Jess consistently mixes and matches colours, textures and materials to create sophisticated and fashionable latex looks. Even in the top picture, a head-to-toe skintight latex outfit moves towards fashion merely by the introduction of a pattern and light colours on top, to contrast the solid black leggings.

Later, she took the same leggings to once again create a gold top / black bottom look for a live performance, only this time the placement of latex was switched around:

 

 

With the release of “I’ll Be There”, Jess achieves ‘The Latex Quadruple’: our new tongue-in-cheek recognition for that special achievement of wearing latex in all domains of the public eye: music videos, live performances, photo shoots and red carpet events.

Congratulations Jess Glynne on this highly coveted and illustrious award! You are in exclusive company, and we hope you’ll continue bringing your sophisticated interpretations of latex fashion to the masses.

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Olya Polyakova – League of Laughter

Ukraine has been an unexpected hot spot of latex fashion news in recent months, kicked off by Tina Karol wearing several latex outfits to at least five different events and TV appearances. Check our full post here.

Since then, Tina’s top rival for Ukraine’s annual ‘Most Beautiful Woman Award’, Olya Polyakova, has seemingly been inspired by her compatriot and fellow singer to also experiment with rubber wear in a number of high profile appearances.

In February, it was in attendance at the aforementioned award show by Viva! magazine, where Olya went on to take the crown:

 

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It would be a great shame to waist such a dress on a mere red carpet photo opportunity, and so Olya took part in the comedy competition show League of Laughter wearing the same dress for the first episodes, broadcast in March.

That’s not all though: for the most recent episodes Olya played a main role in some of the sketches on stage, and that called for some latex outfits which were even more attention-grabbing: first, a unitard in shocking pink, and afterwards a racy policewoman costume! See all of Olya’s outfits in the video below:

 

 

There are parallels once again with Tina Karol, as Tina also played a role in the same series, which was also one of her first TV appearances in latex. We wonder if Olya will take her latex affair yet further. In the meantime, we haven’t heard the last of Tina Karol and latex. Expect another update to follow!

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Q&A with Atsuko Kudo

As one of, if not the most eminent designer of luxury latex couture, Atsuko Kudo barely needs introducing. Her label’s rise in popularity has been marked by an explosion of interest from celebrities, performers and fashionistas, which in turn has contributed towards an unprecedented mainstream awareness of and interest in latex fashion generally.

Atsuko Kudo’s popularity is not due merely to powerful branding or famous associations, of course, but her sophisticated and feminine designs, employing technologically complex innovations such as prints, lace effects or perforated patterns.

Atsuko Kudo took part in blogger KyleSelina’s latest Q&A, and we thank KyleSelina once more for sharing.

 

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Can you provide a short bio of your background in fashion?

I have studied fashion in Tokyo where I discovered latex then I moved to London to study theatre costume and nightclubs!

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?

As above, I discovered latex when I was studying fashion in Tokyo. It was a part of the college course to do market research. I chose to visit a sex shop. I fell in love with the fabric. I love the look and feel of latex. I felt like a superwoman when I wore it. Later it became my passion to dress other women to discover the magic of latex and feel empowered.

 

The ‘Restricted Love’ collection shown at Lingerie London, 2012

 

At what point did you decide to take your personal interest in latex and transition it to a vocation?

I was making clothes for myself and friends to wear for parties. One day I got a call from Coco de Mer when it first opened – they wanted to stock my latex. I was making clothes from my living room alone, I didn’t even have a price list but I set up a business so that I could start to sell!

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?

The latex industry is still very young and small compared to ordinary fashion. The costs of running a business in London are high. Because we are a couture brand and have a shop, design studio, staff and offices we have even more costs. Many of the garments we create are made to fit individual customers. Everything is handmade in London.

If you haven’t got a factory to cut down the cost like big fashion brands or just exist as a one-woman band with no shop or staff to avoid paying high overheads it’s even tougher. Actually the market price for latex doesn’t really make sense because the expectation is for it to be a cheap product. You just try to be good, creative, and prepared to work hard for everything.

However we have such a passion for latex and want to make sure it’s done at the very highest standard so we are always feeling creative. You have to love what you are doing and believe that you can achieve your best work. I hope the passion shows in what people see with our latex designs.

 

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Atsuko Kudo’s boutique at Holloway Road, London. Photo: Timeout

 

Latex can be described as a “fetish”, a “kink”, “Alternative Fashion” or simply “fashion”. Do you prefer one description over another?

I like them 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?

One of the big strengths of latex fabric is the second skin element. It can fit beautifully like a glove so long as it’s cut correctly – so it’s perfect for bodycon styles but let’s not limit our perception. Loose garments can be wonderful too. For example, we make a very nice trench coat which is not bodycon at all but I think it is very sexy.

If it’s a “second skin” does it mean it needs to be worn without undergarments?  Does that intimidate people from wearing it?

It’s nice to wear it without underwear. If latex is cut correctly it will give you support like a shapewear. You can wear with underwear of course. There are no rules. But some garments have got bra cups already built in. A lot of our dresses come this way – we recommend not to wear a bra underneath those items.

 

Top: Mabel McVey; Above: Nicola Peltz

 

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 it 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 offer different styles to suits all sizes, shapes and ages of women. As above, if the garment is cut to the correct size and thickness it will work as shapewear. There are garments with built-in bra cups, and corsets to give extra support available too.

Overall if you choose the correct garments and they are well designed and cut then latex will make the most of your body in the way you want it to be expressed – and that is the most important thing.

How do you find the market for latex wear distributed between men, women, cross-dressers (men or women), and celebrity couture?

Atsuko Kudo latex is for everyone who wishes to feel beautiful, feminine and strong!

What is your favorite piece of latex that you’ve created in your career, for a man and for a woman?

For a woman… we’ve created so many pieces for so many incredible women and I love them all – but if I have to choose one it has to be the red dress that Lady Gaga wore to meet the Queen of England! It was an iconic performance by Gaga and the dress looked amazing on her. I was also so happy to see the Queen’s smile when she met Gaga. I felt it was a bit like royal approval for latex fashion – not that the latex community needs that of course but it was just funny. Latex had been seen as only more hardcore and S&M but everything seemed to change from that moment. I am so grateful to be part of it.

For a man…. I made a special hand-painted cheongsam dress for Simon Hoare who is my longtime collaborator, business partner, muse and later became my husband – it was for a Millennium party – the year 2000 was when I started Atsuko Kudo.

 

Lady Gaga’s Royal Variety Performance, 2009 – she wore this dress to meet Elizabeth II

 

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?

I actually like the fact that latex has all of those qualities. It’s not easy to wear it. You have to go through some suffering but …. the results are amazing.

I see latex the same as other fetish items like high heels, corsets etc – they are not easy but they are worth it…

Do I want to look like someone selling sex? – Yes. Sometimes. On my own terms. It’s interesting – not boring. So long as it is all under your control.

What is your design philosophy?  What drives your creativity?

I want to empower woman through latex. I want to see a shiny sexy woman living the life she wants and deserves. I want to see a more shiny world full of love.

Less or More? Do you prefer designing a latex outfit which is more on the revealing side or leaning towards full coverage?

I love both. It is not necessary to decide one or another.

How do you feel is the best way to integrate latex into an everyday “public” outfit. How would you mix it with other materials?

There are no rules. But you may not want to wear head to toe latex for every day. You can easily mix a latex pencil skirt or leggings with other materials. And accessories such as gloves, collars, belts, hats, look great. It’s however you feel – do what you want to do!

 

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Mixing a latex pencil skirt with other materiels, by Style On The Couch blog. 

 

What are your goals for your future in latex design?

I want to dress the Queen of England in our latex one day. When she celebrated her 60 year diamond jubilee she had a photographic exhibition in Windsor castle with one photo per year and chose that picture with Lady Gaga to represent the year 2009. It seemed so far away before but after seing her with Gaga there may be a tiny chance? I would design a classical style suit and hat like she wears now in a bright colour would be nice. It would be a pleasure and my ultimate dream.

What is your favorite part of being a latex fashion designer?

To be able to meet and work with so many amazing people and projects. We get to work with the world’s top superstars and creative artists but also what nobody sees is that we mostly work with people you will never hear about because they are ordinary people buying an extraordinary product to make some special moments in their life feel even more special.

Some time ago we made briefs and a corset for a very large sized girl (14 x XL) who wanted to feel and look beautiful for her husband. She could not find the outfit that made her feel that way so visited us to make her own unique pieces. When she wore the outfit there were some tears both in her and her husband’s eyes.

These stories of ordinary people you never really hear about but they are just as beautiful as the ones in the newspaper. Often more so.

What is your “Blue Sky” accomplishment to achieve in the world of latex clothing or fashion in general?

I want to dress many more women to make the world more shiny and lovely. That can happen in many unexpected ways. Recently we dressed a car and supermodel Natasha Poly at the same time for a fashion campaign for Mercedes Benz A/W 2016 in which AK was the chosen brand. We vacuum bagged the car in a concrete factory in Miami, Florida – it was epic!

Also we dressed a set and models covered in 99.9% latex for a Veuve Cliquot champagne party last year. It was a fashion/art event curated by former French Vogue editor Carine Roitfeld and we collaborated with her along with work from Karl Lagerfeld and Tom Ford. The event was directed by theatre director Patrick Kinmonth. It was such a thrill and a great experience and I think took latex to another place as the audience were coming into the concept from a very different angle.

Now we have dressed a big car and the set that we never thought to dress, what’s next? The blue sky can be anything…

 

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Top: Mercedes Benz Fashion Film; Above: Atsuko Kudo with models for the Veuve Clicquot event ‘SEVEN’. Photo: Dave Benett

 

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 commonplace? 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?

It’s ok to be yourself and respect others, we are all different. If someone is nervous about a fabric choice then it is probably them that has the problem. Stop fear and make love the goal.

Women’s clothing seems to have such variety. Can men’s latex be as interesting? What are your thoughts on men’s latex fashion?

Men’s latex can look great too. But it’s different of course. We specialize in women but we do a range of good suits and accessories for men – but only really in store. So you have to visit us! Then I can show what is available for men.

Is there anything you would like to add?

If you are thinking about trying latex or even Atsuko Kudo latex for the first time I would say if you can then try to visit us. The experience we try to give is unlike normal shopping. We sell our clothes in our flagship store in London.

But we also sell to many people online who we never meet by using measurements and possibly some photos. We always prefer to meet in person but it’s not always possible. Some of the public/celebrity work that you may have seen might be done this way too. We hope we can help you too. Looking forward to seeing you in Atsuko Kudo! xx

 

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Photo: Amy Spanos, Model: Em Cmk

 

Thank you to KyleSelina of the Dark Shiny Fashion Alternatives blog for holding the Q&A, and to Atsuko Kudo for her participation.

Header photo: Peter Ashworth

Links:

Previous Q&As:

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Breathless sale and Vespa advert

Breathless create smart and sophisticated latex couture and fetish-fashion; suits, dresses, uniforms and more. They’re offering a 20% sale on everything online and in their London store (48 Phoenix Road). Sale ends midnight 18th March.

On a related note, this morning I also discovered this striking Vespa advert from India, 2013 by director Harvey B Brown. It features the classy white ‘Clover’ suit from Breathless, as well as capri leggings.

Vespa is an iconic brand that has long been associated with timeless style; with beauty of form and lines. It’s especially cool that latex couture fit the director’s vision of an idealised world symbolising and encapsulating these associations.

 

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Kirsten Li talks latex with Racked

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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

Kirsten Li Designs

 

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Rae Morris – Someone Out There

When we are researching articles we naturally find a lot of artists that we may not have discovered otherwise had it not been for their connection with latex clothing and fashion. This is not an indictment on those artists, merely a reflection of ourselves being out of touch with the modern popular music scene!

A lot of this music we could take or leave, and our interest in the artist extends only as far as our solemn duty to document latex developments in the mainstream.

However just occasionally, we’re introduced to an artist or song which excites us, inspires us, makes us feel good, and we can’t help listening on repeat and spreading the word to those in our circle. We thank latex for such discoveries!

And so it was late last year as we watched Rae Morris when performing her new single Do It for the BBC’s Live Lounge. Rae wears a red latex body which looks fabulous on her under the dim red lights of the close-up, intimate studio environment. Rae’s joy in the performance is as infectious as the song, her vocals sharp and distinct, and the melody and electronic production right up our street. We’re happy to say that with Rae we came for the latex, and stayed for the music.

 

 

The official music video is also an upbeat and joyous watch.

In the live lounge, Rae is wearing a red version of the latex body by Kim West which she also wears on the cover for her album Someone Out There. The album is released on the 2nd of February and can be preorded here: https://lnk.to/someoneoutthere?ref=http%3A//raemorris.co.uk/