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Rosamund Pike at TIFF 2018

Attention latex trend spotters! We interrupt your usual scheduled programming of A Kardashian in a Tight Rubber Dress to bring you this report, just in, of someone who doesn’t usually wear latex doing something not usually done with latex.

Rosamund Pike attended the Toronto International Film Festival and wore this flowing, rather gentle looking pink maxi skirt, contrasted with a fringed top of Swarovski crystal. The whole effect is rather soft and feminine, and another new style to add to the latex red carpet ‘lookbooks’.

 

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This ensemble appeared in Givenchy’s Spring/Summer 2018 collection. Perhaps it signals the potential for latex to be “the new leather”: A daring and visually striking material, which can be mixed and matched with other textures to create intriguing contrasts and sophisticated, stylish looks. First the runway. Then the red carpet. Next, the high street?

Latex already made it to the high street, of course: just look to House of CB. But we’re wondering if we may see even more styles beyond the sexy figure-hugging dresses. Don’t get us wrong: a skintight latex dress will always have a special place in our hearts. We simply think that latex is capable of even more.

Let’s also remind ourselves that latex achieves the glossy, wet look effect of leather or vinyl, as well as the smooth texture, without using neither animal skins nor the heavy pollutants involved in the manufacture of faux leather (PU leather) or PVC. Instead, latex is a natural, sustainable substance sourced from trees.

In our increasingly eco-conscious society, that may just make all the difference in Latex’s potential to storm the fashion world – so long as the designers continue to innovate.

 

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Michał Szpak – Sopot Top of the Top Festival

For quite some time, the mere occurrence of a musician or celebrity wearing latex has ceased to be an unusual event in itself.

Time was, it took an artist with a certain reputation for eccentricity and non-conformity in order to push the envelope and wear these most eye-catching, and strange, outfits of rubber.

Partly due to their efforts, and partly due to the rise of latex couture, latex wear has spread from these fashion outliers to the mainstream core of pop culture, with presumably not much more ground – or taboos – to break. Even overt references to the fetish culture from which latex clothing sprang are now accepted as part of the normal iconography of the performer or fashionista; “Stars will be stars.”

However, all of the above assumes one crucial fact: we’re talking about women.

 

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Michał Szpak performing at last month’s Top of the Top Festival in Sopot, Poland

 

Of course, men’s fashion does not have the same scope to be flamboyant or as out-there as women’s, and there is a whole host of reasons (that we won’t go into here) why this may be the case.

But even limiting the scope of our discussion to the famous, it still seems that few male performers are really taking advantage of their rock cred – their license to be larger than life – and breaking free of convention.

Not like we’ve seen in bygone generations, in any case.

Where are the New Romantics? The Punks? The Glam Rockers of today? We need new and exciting music, fashion and cultural movements to spur the kind of flamboyance and explosion of individuality and expression which marked those previous eras. And like female celebs have become trendsetters and brought latex fashion into the consciousness, perhaps we need genuine leaders, strong personalities, to show men also: There can be another way.

 

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Szpak was a finalist on X Factor Poland, and later represented Poland in the Eurovision Song Contest, 2016

 

Michał Szpak may be too little known to be that influence. But hopefully he’s only a little ahead of his time. We salute Michał for putting some glam back into rock. Oh but this is no retro revival; latex is as bleeding edge as it gets.

I’m not entirely sure what I wanted to say with the post; but I guess it’s something like this: we’ve reached a stage where women’s latex fashion is in the mainstream consciousness almost daily; it would be nice not to have to wait years to witness another occurrence of men’s latex in the public eye.

Oh and the ‘L with a stroke’ letter is pronounced like the English ‘w’. Always been curious about that one!

 

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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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Davika Hoorne wearing Atsuko Kudo

Davika Hoorne is a top actress and model from Thailand. The video and pictures below date from March this year, when Davika appeared at a promo/launch event for the weight loss dietary supplement brand ‘GDM Blossom Jelly’. Davika wears the Restricted Strapless Pencil Dress by Atsuko Kudo, which has also been worn by the likes of Rita Ora and Nicola Peltz.

 

 

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This is not the first time Davika has been spotted wearing latex. Last year, she attended the Victoria’s Secret fashion show in Shangai wearing that other perennial Atsuko Kudo favourite, the Paris Cup Pencil Dress, which has also been worn by the likes of…. well… there are simply too many to list 🙂

 

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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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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.