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Latex fashion continues its march into the mainstream with a new book by GoliathLatest News
Thurs 27 Oct, 2011.
There was a time, not so long ago, that latex clothing only came out at night, or perhaps was worn very discreetly beneath more conventional attire. Possibly more than any other material, latex flashed “fetish” in big, bold letters across the forehead of whoever was wearing it. It certainly was not acceptable in polite society.
This, however, is changing, as was seen rather conclusively last October when Atsuko Kudo hit the catwalk in New York with a collection of latex fashion that dropped jaws. See towards the end of a video clip of AK’s triumph – Atsuko Kudo/Lingerie New York Runway Show (at 6:15) – for two outfits, first in dusty pink and then in black, to see what we mean.
Atsuko Kudo is not by any means the only accomplished latex fashion designer, and the German publisher Goliath Books pays tribute to an international host of them in a new book, Latex Fashion Photography. Of course, as the title indicates, the book is principally featuring the photographers (and the models) who have done so much to portray latex design as a work of fashion art.
Sixty-three photographers, in all, are represented in the book’s 384 pages, and although there is the apparently unavoidable contingent of seen-it-all-before, pretty-girls-in-rubber shots, there is a wealth of stylish imagery that transcends the established genre of fetish photography. It is these that interest us here at SDk, and, indeed, many of the photographers have produced such imagery, even if not entirely consistently. Some detail is called for.
Beauty of Abyss – that’s German photographer Thomas Adorff – has some work of dark glamour that reminds us of Artpunk, SomethingDark’s featured photographer for SDk01. Trevor and Faye Yerbury who, also like Artpunk, are based in Scotland, have a collection of photographs we found to be the most consistent in this Goliath book: images of immense style and understated glamour (except perhaps for the latex) that we found reminiscent of Jeff Dunas’ luxurious 1980s-vintage shoots in clubs, grand hôtels, mansions and chateaux – and that’s a compliment, although we dare say the Yerbury’s do not find compliments in short supply. Evoking a similar mood where latex contrasts, but somehow does not clash, with an elegant, old-world ambience – this time very much outdoors – is one shot by French photographer Josselin Guichard (p. 146), and those by the London-based Jeremy Rendell (pp. 136–7).
On the other hand, another German photographer, Oliver Kniest (OKn-Photography), presents images of a startling, hyper-real clarity that edge towards the surrealistic in both composition and production. We also liked one shot in particular by Jeffrey David Cohn (United States): a pair of legs protruding from under a lime-green car’s door. The legs were, of course, latex-clad, and they belonged to iconic fetish model Kumimonster, but, recalling some of Guy Bourdin’s most memorable and transgressive work, the shot would have worked regardless of the model’s apparel. And then there is Belgian photographer Patrick Ceuppens’ wonderfully tongue-in-cheek play on fetish and adult-industry clichés with his pink-and-blue rendering of model Ancilla Tilia packaged as a “Bimbo DeluXXX Edition” doll (although we had to search for Ceuppens’ out-of-alphabetical-order listing in the photographers’ index for his information).
Over the years we’ve noticed that 1940s, ’50s and ’60s retro themes are dear to many a photographer’s heart; results can be very pleasing when well executed, but introducing latex to the mix is surely a challenge. Surprisingly, there are examples where this works, by America’s Corrupt Image Data (pp. 54–5) and Sweden’s Marcus Gunnarsson (p. 226). Offerings by Viva Van Story (United States), to our eye, are not as successful due to the model’s clichéd, sexy-fetish poses and the absence of clear retro styling and the louder colours of the latex garments (pp. 336–7). In contrast to the bright and often garish – and sometimes tasteless – colours of latex photography, the Washington DC-based Vance proves that black-and-white still has a place in this genre; the two images in question (pp. 326–7) also demonstrate the importance of composition and artistic vision.
As far as the models are concerned, Ulorin Vex (who featured on SDk01’s cover in a shot by Artpunk) most clearly demonstrates the art of modelling. Ulorin, a highly versatile model who is seen posing for a wide range of photographers in a great number of very diverse roles, rightly receives first mention when editor and Goliath founder Miki Bunge turns his attention in the book’s introduction to the models that grace its pages. One of our own observations at this point is that we regard it as fortunate there are not many examples of models who have overdone the bosom (or lip) augmentation, as at least one household-name fetish model has clearly done; we might have the alt-model scene to thank for that.
Other fabrics and materials make welcome cameo appearances in a number of images, and we did like the androgynous look created by LA photographer Allan Amato and model Nickie Jean where a pair of men’s trousers is worn over the bottom half of a latex outfit.
To conclude, if latex is your “thing”, you will not have to think very hard before deciding to add this substantial and very well produced hardcover book to your coffee table. And, like the fashion it portrays, you will no longer have to hide it when visitors knock on the door. Either that, or you’re entertaining the wrong visitors.
Latex Fashion Photography, ed. Miki Bunge. Frankfurt/Main: Goliath, 2011. 384pp., including editor’s introduction in English, French, Germany, Italian, Spanish, and separate directories for featured photographers, latex fashion designers/labels, and international retail latex fashion stores.
Text copyright © SomethingDark 2011. Images copyright © Marcus Gunnarsson, Patrick Ceuppens, Collective Chaos/Corrupt Image Data, and Goliath Books 2011. All rights reserved.