You may have noticed a few celebs wearing latex recently.
This seems universally good for fashion bloggers because it’s an easy news story. And it seems universally bad for venomous Daily Mail commentators, apoplectic with the purest of hate for “attention seeking C-listers” because they’re powerless to prevent news stories about them loading themselves into their web browsers.
Latex wearing enthusiasts themselves occupy a middle ground, not quite sure how to take the fact of their fetish, or niche, breaking into the mainstream.
Some are perhaps a little protective, afraid the stars are not wearing latex for the right reasons. Here they might see eye-to-eye with one of those Mail commenters, echoing their arguments that the celebrity is wearing latex merely to attract column inches, as opposed to having some positive disposition to the material. Furthermore, they suggest this is a strategy on the part of their stylists, further decreasing the likelihood that the celebrity is wearing this thing because she likes how it looks or feels good in it.
These arguments not only sell latex short but are also subtly sexist.
Some common reactions to trying latex for the first time include:
It’s figure enhancing
I look and feel sexy
I feel like a superhero
Latex is a sensual material. We can agree on that. Why should celebrities be excluded from feeling these sensations? Isn’t it likely that, being normal people, they feel them too when donning rubber? Latex clothing is like no other material, and although you can find an outlandish fabric dress by some high fashion designer to wear, it will still be made of a fabric you’ve worn already a thousand times. Latex is otherworldly in comparison, and I think it goes ignored how consciously different those celebrities must feel by wearing that latex outfit, quite apart from how it looks for the cameras.
Why is it hard to admit latex feels good to wear? Don’t think those oft-quoted reactions to latex above are exclusive to those people who get a sexual thrill from it. Don’t sell latex short!
To say the sole reason celebrities put on latex is to attract attention is, I think, denying these women the right to feel sexy and powerful at the times they need it most: in the public eye. Look at the moments they choose to wear latex: a red carpet event, or performing on stage, and tell me these are not the exact moments when they want to feel that power most. That confidence. That transformation into something superhuman. Perhaps not a superhero, but a superstar. Latex provides that. To deny that, and suggest it is purely for our benefit, purely to attract our attention, is born of a similar misogynistic current that underlies such beliefs that women wear high heels and makeup for no reason other than to provide something enticing for male eyes.
The influence of stylists was mentioned above. Is the celebrity choosing to wear this or has it been decided for them?
While it is conceivable stylists have the ultimate say in what celebrities wear, I don’t think the star is without input, and certainly could not be expected to ‘like it or lump it’ when latex is the question. Latex is not a material which one can feel ambivalent about, and if the performer is not completely on board with the idea, it would have the opposite effect of those transformative qualities, damaging their confidence or ability to perform. When there are so many ways of standing out that don’t involve dressing in rubber, why would the stylist insist, if the star was not in love with the idea? I think it’s quite telling that particular celebrities are known to return to the material again and again.
Kylie Minogue, Paloma Faith, Rita Ora, Lady Gaga, Nicole Scherzinger, Katy Perry, Daisy Lowe… these are just some of the famous people known to revisit the material at different times, wearing different designs. Given that one can’t be ambivalent about latex, and that they quite evidently don’t hate it, they must – gasp! – love it!
Knowing how latex looks and how it feels to wear I find that very easy to believe.