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Q&A With LatexFashionTV

A TV channel devoted to latex clothing? What a time to be alive. Called LatexFashionTV, it brings you reports from various events across Europe, whether fashion shows, fetish gatherings, or cosplay conventions. Films include catwalk shows as well as a look behind the scenes, involving interviews with models and designers.

Besides these ‘on location’ reports, there are also cinematic showcases of particular models, outfits and latex labels, and the channel shares the best of video output by designers too, either of a promotional or behind the scenes nature. All of this ensures LatexFashionTV is your one-stop shop for latex in motion – and all in glorious full-HD, of course.

This is Dark Shiny Fashion Alternatives’ sixth Q&A, and we thank them for sharing.

 

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Can you provide a short bio of your background in fashion? Who are you, what’s your background and how did LatexFashionTV come to be?

My name is Cole Black and my background is in media and video production. I don’t have any formal training in fashion but l work with brilliant people who do. LatexFashionTV came about through a love of film making and fetish fashion.

How did you discover latex and fetish fashion as a focal point for your video work? Did you have a personal interest in wearing latex or was it just a material that you found interesting?

I discovered latex with Batman Returns and Michelle Pfeiffer’s Catwoman. I knew there was something special about her outfit and seeing shiny outfits on Top of the Pops or late night shows like Eurotrash and Sexcetera would always catch my eye. It seems crazy now but there was no internet back then. So it was kind of a building curiosity. You couldn’t type ‘latex’ into google and bring up thousands of images and videos like today.

At what point did you decide to take your personal interest in latex and transition it to a vocation? Is it a vocation or just a personal side project?

It started as a side project but takes up half my time now. I discovered the fetish scene in the mid-noughties. Seeing people in person wearing amazing outfits that were so visually arresting, I knew working with latex would be fantastic to film and I’ve been shooting it ever since.

Since you’re constantly interacting with various aspects of the latex scene, how would you describe “the market” from a business perspective? Are people in the industry predominately focused on “sex & fetish” or is it an alternative fashion material?

I’d say it’s both. Most designers have some outfits leaning toward fetish and others toward fashion. There are classic fetish style outfits that will always be popular in the fetish scene while celebrities wear stylish latex dresses for fashion and cosplayers slide into catsuits for the latest comic con. For them It’s an alternative fashion material that’s fun to wear.

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

It can be all things to all people or something very singular. Latex will probably always have connotations of being naughty, just like thigh high boots, It’s out of the ordinary, that’s what makes it fun. I guess I think of it as alternative fashion. Lubing up to go to the shops to get a pint of milk isn’t something everyone would do.

Latex seems to be a small subset of things fetish. It can also exist without things fetish as pure fashion. In fact one can argue that “fetish” and the association with sex and/or pornography detracts from the fashion aspect. It becomes fashion for “porn stars” not fashion for regular people. So… Fashion or fetish? What side do you want to promote in your films?

The theme of LFTV is promoting latex clothing wherever that takes us. We can be front row at a fashion show one episode then demonstrate a vac-cube at a fetish club the next. But it’s a fine line to walk to keep everything in balance and we hopefully do it in a fun, friendly way that doesn’t lean too heavily in one direction for long.

 

 

Following that topic, the majority of your subjects are women. Are there plans to do any pieces on “straight” men’s fashion? What opportunities would that provide? Are there any stigmas you could break with such a piece?

Co-incidentally, as I write this our last two episodes are Men’s latex fashion shows. We try to cover the scene as we find it and it’s mostly women wearing latex fashion. That’s reflected in everything from the types of outfits for sale to the models in fashion shows. Guys certainly wear latex too but mostly in Fetish clubs and very few actually want to be on camera in my experience.

How about a piece focusing on a cross-dresser? Are there any stigmas you could break with such a piece?

We’ve featured fashion shows with cross-dresser’s before. Our focus is always going to be predominantly women’s fashion because that’s where my interest is. But never say never.

It seems many latex outfits are designed to be body hugging. We’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?

Absolutely. One of my favorite things about latex is how skin-tight it is. I personally love outfits that are unashamedly rubber. But there are some incredible loose fitting latex outfits too. I was once shooting in Piccadilly Circus in London with Rebecca from Yummy Gummy wearing a latex dress with a loose skirt and families came up to take selfies with her. That’s a perfect example of latex being seen as fun. They probably didn’t even register it as latex, It was just a cool shiny outfit.

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

I’d guess it’s predominantly Women with celebrity couture the smallest market. There are only so many celebrities.

What is your favorite piece of latex fashion that you’ve had the opportunity to film?

That’s so tough. I do love a classic catsuit or latex leggings. My favourite thing probably changes with whatever I’ve filmed recently. I’m working on a motorbike film right now with an incredible latex biker catsuit.

It seems London and Berlin get all the latex events. A cosmopolitan city like New York has nothing. How come? Which event has been the most fun to film and why?

We’re lucky in the UK that London is kept busy with latex events. Other places both in the UK and around the world have latex events. In fact the biggest collection of latex catwalks was in Manchester at Sexhibition. New York has its own ‘the Baroness’ who as well as being a legendary latex designer I think holds regular latex events in NY? I’ve yet to travel to the states to shoot latex but would love to in the future.

 

 

In viewing the LatexFashionTV Youtube page, we notice that most of your pieces are in the 5 to 10 minute range in length. Do you have plans to create a longer, documentary style piece? With the range of access you have, it would seem you can take a deep dive into topics centered on an event, a designer, or one of your “challenge” concepts.

I’m a fan of shorter content so always aim for around five minutes give or take. There are plans for longer pieces, one following models shooting abroad, another is a deep dive into a designer. I did just shoot a pilot for a longer show format that worked pretty well and plan to develop further.

On that note, I’m sure it would be interesting for our reader to have a better understanding on the effort involved in putting your pieces together. The videos don’t jump straight from the camera to Youtube. Editing of both the video and the audio tracks is required. What’s really involved?

For anyone who doesn’t know the ins and outs of film making it can be pretty involved. I think of it as putting together a massive jigsaw… and you’re also making the pieces you’re going to need to put the jigsaw together as you go along.

It starts with the idea. Then I make notes about what I want to shoot. Planning what equipment I’ll need and outfits for the models to wear. An outfit for me to wear if it’s a club with say, an all rubber dress code.

Then there’s the actual filming itself which usually involves traveling. Shooting means making sure everything is shiny and perfect. Making sure everything is lit. That the sound is recorded properly. Back at the edit suite the footage gets copied off the cameras, backed up on two separate hard drives and again in the cloud. I’ve been shooting latex for over a decade and my main archive is pretty big.

Then I’ll start editing and organizing the footage. For a lot of films I have a certain style in mind so I’ll start dropping the footage I need on a timeline and putting it in order. Then there’s choosing music. We license a lot of tracks from music libraries. Sometimes finding the right music track can take longer than editing.

Editing from start to finish can take anything from a few hours to a few days. Right now I have around 30 films in production. Some waiting to be published. Some in various stages of editing. So it gets a bit crazy.

What drives your creativity for your video pieces?

Anything that seems likes it’s going to be fun. Something I haven’t done before or something familiar with a new twist.

Less or More? You’ve had the opportunity to film all sorts of outfits and costumes. What pops out more on film – the skimpy, the full enclosure or the couture?

Anything colorful is great on camera. Filming a black outfit in a dark club can be difficult. I personally love outfits that cling and are unmistakably rubber with lots of shine. A lot really depends on the model wearing it and what she brings to it as well.

Is filming latex more of a challenge than filming everyday outfits? Do you need to take special considerations for things such as lighting? What other differences are there?

It’s a lot like shooting a shiny car. You need highlights and reflections to emphasise curves and shape. Shooting outside in daylight always looks great.

You’ve done a piece titled “Wearing Latex for a Week Challenge.” This seems to be a “holy grail” type of experience for many latex aficionados who would love to wear latex in public but are too scared to actually take the leap.

What tends to be the general reaction of people to the outfits as you are filming? Do they react with ignorance, puzzlement, disgust or appreciation?

The ‘challenge’ films are some of my favorites. People’s reactions depend on the situation. Wearing latex in more regular settings like city centers or coffee shops get some looks I’m sure. But the outfits worn for those locations are somewhat appropriate and fashionable. Maybe latex leggings or a latex dress. It’s not too out of place. No one is dressed in a full Catwoman outfit in Starbucks. The idea behind them isn’t to shock people for the sake of it. It’s to see how latex clothes can work as part of every day life.

 

 

As a man, I find if I get women [who are not fetishists] offer a comment on an outfit it tends to come off as positive. When a man offers a comment, it usually feels as a backhanded insult. Have you ever considered filming the “viewers” reactions to what they are seeing? Would that perspective help a latex aficionado put together an outfit in which they would be comfortable wearing without provoking strong reaction – either positive or negative – from the general public?

I generally see positive reactions. But then I’m around people in latex at events or in situations were something different might get a second look but isn’t entirely unexpected. I’m more interested in portraying people as comfortable and confident in their latex rather than looking for a reaction, positive or negative.

Would you consider filming a “latex challenge” video with a person that is neither a model nor a fetishist? How about about the same for a man? How about a cross-dressing man or woman?

I love the idea of introducing a newbie to latex. We’ve done a variation on that with someone’s first time wearing rubber to a club but would love to expand on it more.

What are your goals for Latex Fashion TV?

To keep bringing you latex fashion and rubbery adventures. Our monthly views just passed 500,000 which is insane but pretty awesome.

What is your favorite part of being involved with latex fashion?

The friends I’ve made and the people that make up the latex scene.

What is your blue sky accomplishment to achieve in the world to latex fashion?

To be known as a great place for latex and rubber fashion and to promote the latex community in a positive way.

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 behaviour 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 a style 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?

Any outfit you have to lube up to get into is never going to be common place. Latex does take a little effort to wear, but that’s ok. It’s one of the reasons we love it. I’m sure you could interchange leather with latex at many jobs and it would be fine. A woman might wear a leather skirt to an office job, but not a full leather catsuit. It’s the same thing, you could wear latex leggings to work and be fine but your boss might not appreciate a full latex catsuit and hood.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

You can watch over 300 films with latex fashion on our website or YouTube channel (do subscribe) and follow us on social media for sneak peeks and updates. It’s great to get comments and If you’re involved with something epic that deals with fetish fashion we’d love to hear from you.

 

 

Header image: SatoriaAltModel presenting for LFTV at the Prague Fetish Weekend

Thank you to Cole for his participation, and to Kyle&Selina of the Dark Shiny Fashion Alternatives blog for holding the Q&A.

Links:

Previous Q&As:

 

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The Cyber Suit

The outfits of the future will be made of latex. If, that is, we are to believe the accounts of numerous sci-fi movies, films and video games. We’ve shown many of these portrayals in our posts about latex in science fiction and cosplay here and here. Something about the slick, flawless, metallic-appearing and yet completely natural origin of latex makes it a perfect fit for portraying a future where the organic is increasingly interwoven with the robotic.

There are some, however, who are not just presenting high-tech latex costumes as something out of sci-fi but are creating this future as we speak. Introducing Olga Levitskaya, CEO of Cyber Myonics, neurobiologist, inventor, musician, cosplayer, and self-styled ‘Cyborg’.

 

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Photo: Guiseppe Nucci For National Geographic

 

The term cyborg is not the same thing as bionic, biorobot or android; it applies to an organism that has restored function or enhanced abilities due to the integration of some artificial component or technology that relies on some sort of feedback. – Joseph Carvalko

Ignoring the usual fantastical connotations of the popularised term ‘Cyborg’ and instead applying the above literal definition, it transpires that Olga’s claim to this moniker is entirely legitimate.

While making a sculpture during her 4th year of university, Olga accidentally sliced through her hand. The injury was severe, and Olga, a keen musician, was told she could all but forget about playing her Double bass. Through a curious confluence of her training in neurobiology and interest in Anime (where the heroines often don high-tech suits offering the wearer superpowers), it dawned on Olga that it may be possible to use technology as an aid in overcoming her disability.

The Eureka idea was a glove that used electronic pulses to stimulate the nerves, causing the muscles to move the hand in the desired way. In effect training the neural networks and ‘reeducating’ the brain in those physiological mechanisms as when the arm was healthy. The principal can be seen in this TV spot from Russian news, where the reporter puts on the glove and sees his arm take on a life of its own (at 1m 10s):

 

 

Here the arm was programmed to learn the muscle memory to play the drums, but in Olga’s case she was able to rehabilitate her arm to be able to take up stringed instruments once more. Besides rehabilitation after damage or a stroke, the same principle of ‘recording’ physical movements in digital and then playing them back, from computer to body, may even be used to learn an entirely new skill requiring muscle memory.

From there, the idea grew – why stop at a mere glove? A whole suit of this kind would have a much wider field of application. The Cyber Suit was born.

 

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We can see from much of the promotional material that besides muscle rehabilitation and learning new skills another potential application is for ‘deep immersion’ in Virtual Reality; the electrodes and sensors of the suit acting on the nerves in such a way as to trigger the correct sensory responses to match what the user is seeing within their headset.

And then there is also the claim that such a suit can even help the body become fitter or to lose weight without exercising. We don’t know the science behind that, but suspect it may be the same concept as those toning belts which you strap to your abs, the electrodes inside the belt stimulating the muscles and causing them to contract repeatedly. Imagine a whole suit of that!

 

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Olga credits her Cyber Suit with helping her to lose weight

 

The claims are bold, the ambition lofty. What we don’t know is how much of this is just conceptual, and whether any results have been independently proven, outside of this video by a YouTuber who tested a prototype (non-latex) and found the fitness aspect did deliver some results: (video is in Russian)

What we don’t doubt is Olga Levitskaya’s own dedication and belief in her vision; battling constantly for media exposure and funding (one often following on from the other) as well as injecting non-trivial sums of her own money. Perhaps the most gruelling process was taking part in the TV reality show “Million-Rouble Idea”, which is much like the show “Dragon’s Den” for startup companies seeking investment. The pre-selection process for this required a successful crowdfunding campaign – itself requiring no small amount of time, resources and energy – and Olga went on to feature in Million-Rouble Idea as a contestant in December last year.

We found this episode and thought the segment well worth posting, as it gives the best look at the suit up close, along with a detailed showcase of its workings in the form of an investor pitch (unfortunately in Russian, but the main attributes have been covered in this post already).

 

 

Olga proceeded to the series finale but unfortunately lost out on any investment at that stage.

All of this still leaves the very pertinent question though…

 

Why Latex?

Olga herself has stated that for the Cyber Suit to work it has to be both tight against the skin and following perfectly the contours of the body, for an uninterrupted connection between the suit and the muscles or nerves of the wearer. Of course, latex and its famed property for being like a “second skin” fits this bill.

 

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Cyber Suit prototype. The latex catsuit itself is made by celebrated cosplay designer Andromeda Latex

 

Whether it is exclusively latex which can perform this job we are doubtful, and indeed there are other functioning Cyber Suits created by Cyber Monics from other materials.

But putting aside practical function, there are few materials that capture the sci-fi feel as latex. As we noted at the outset, latex is an effective bridge material between the organic and the cybernetic, and aesthetic concern is surprisingly important to a scientific project such as this, if only to make the science attractive; to popularise it and grab our attention.

So yes: it’s effective PR. But more than that: it intrigues us, makes us want to discover the substance behind the attractive visual; it makes the technology appealing and aspirational. The future seductive.

Even that well known futurist Elon Musk thinks so, who hired superhero movie costume designer Jose Fernandez to work on the space suits for SpaceX:

 

[Mr Musk] wanted it to look stylish. It had to be practical but also needed to look great … When people put this spacesuit on, he wants them to look better than they did without it, like a tux. You look heroic in it – Jose Fernandez interviewed by Bleep Magazine.

 

It seems that Olya, taking her inspiration from Anime, Games and Cosplay, also understands this. And really — what good are superpowers if you don’t look the part?!

 

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Latex in Music, May-July

Though circumstances may prevent us updating this site as much as we’d like, there is no shortage of latex news whether it be in the media, fashion shows, the art world or about designers and their creations. For the time being, the best way for us to unite these two conflicting truths may be to post topical “news digests”. As always, the music world alone has a lot to offer, so it’s time to get ourselves up to speed on what’s been happening over the last few months.

 

Nicki Minaj – Chun Li

For the single “Chun Li” Vex Clothing made several variants on the Street Fighter character’s traditional costume, for Nicki herself as well as her backing dancers. Although I do like the visual style of the official MV, its saturated darkness and neon means that it’s not the best way to get a look at the latex creations themselves. Step forward SNL, where Nicki performed live wearing no doubt the most singularly stunning rendition of the costume, in black and glittering gold.

 

 

In another unmissable live performance, Nicki wears a latex kimono and dress, once again flanked by backup dancers also in latex. Watch it here.

 

St Vincent on ‘Later… with Jools Holland’

St Vincent’s affection for latex has reached a crescendo with the release and promotion of her album Masseduction, wearing it for almost every major live TV performance (not to mention the music videos from the album). The most recent appearance, on last months ‘Later… with Jools Holland’, is our runaway favourite: from the classy cheongsam design and sexy skintight all-over fit, to the alluring deep green colour with an interesting bright orange accent.

 

 

Dana Dentata – TND

Music for strip clubs which is about empowering woman. This is what metalhead turned rapper Dana Dentata is shooting for. Frustrated by the negativity and even abuse of the male-dominated music industry, Dana took strength from the dancers at a particular gentlemen’s club, their confidence inspiring her to strike out on her own. And thus was born the ‘stripper jam’.

What better costume to represent not taking any more shit, especially from male chauvinists, than the Catwoman costume? This particular one is a rendition of the iconic suit worn by Michelle Pfeiffer, stitching and all.

Dana says: “It’s 2018. It’s the year of the pussy.” We’re not sure if the pun was intended.

 

 

Mnek – Colour ft. Hailee Steinfield

We love this layering of latex with sheer, lacey fabrics. Here Hailee is wearing a set of Vex lingerie in vivid red. On its own, that would be too simple, too racy, too skimpy, too blunt. Add a bit of tantalising coverage and contrasting textures – a bit of delicacy and softness – and it suddenly becomes so much more intriguing, while losing none of its sauciness ♥♥♥

 

 

Jax Jones, Mabel – Ring, Ring ft. Rich the Kid

Earlier in the year, Mabel McVey treated us to the most stunning of latex shots, quite rightly comparing her look to Jessica Rabbit: Instagram. That dress was by Atsuko Kudo, and Mabel returns to the designer for this video, this time in a silver skirt and pencil cup top.

 

 

Sabrina Carpenter – Almost Love

Sabrina wears the Dead Lotus Couture ‘NATALIE’ dress in this video, a design which combines lace with latex and is simultaneously cutesie and dangerous. In that sense, it reminds me of the Gothic Lolita style, and may be an inspired choice of outfit for this former Disney actress turned mature songwriter.

 

 

Villins – We Are the Night

Jesyka of New York duo Villins is rather partial to latex, often wearing it for shows as well as in their previous video ‘Your Fantasy’. This time it’s no less than a full catsuit for their new single We Are the Night. Unlike the Nicki Minaj ‘Chun Li’ MV, here the moody retro-future neon lighting can only amplify the gloss of so much latex in what is an intimately staged video.

 

Jesyka’s catsuit is by LovnBlack.

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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 uploaded our own copy to be able to include English subtitles, but unfortunately it was taken down. We’ll work on an alternative, but until then you can watch the original in Russian below.

 

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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.