Jun 182018
 

What are the sartorial origins of the black-clad dominatrix? I will skip the more familiar examples from recent years and try to find the earlier examples.

Certainly everyone will remember Diana Rigg as Mrs. Emma Peel (“Miss SM Appeal”) in the UK spy TV series The Avengers. Her most overtly kinky costumes were features in the episodes “A Touch of Brimstone” and “Death at Bargain Prices.”

Woman in black leather suit with zippers

Diana Rigg as Emma Peel in The Avengers, wearing the leather jumpsuit costume from “Death at Bargain Prices”

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Apr 152013
 

Pleasure from MARC CAMPBELL on Vimeo.

Despite Vimeo attributing it to Marc Campbell, IMDB lists it as Dressing for Pleasure (1977) directed by John Samson and Mike Wallington, about the 1970s UK leather/rubber/latex scene. Including interviews with John Sutcliffe of Atomage fame, and a clerk at McLaren-Westwood’s SEX shop.

I like the framing device of the models posing in and around a giant book printed, as if the people in the photos and illustrations of something like John Willie’s Bizarre or an Atomage catalogue magically came to life.

Apr 132013
 

Cole, Shaun. ‘Don We Now Our Gay Apparel’: Gay Men’s Dress in the Twentieth Century. Berg, 2000 Amazon

If there’s a predominant theme in Cole’s book on the history of gay fashion in the twentieth century, it’s that gay fashion is always imperfectly mimetic, a tangled mix of “passing, minstrelization and capitulation”, to quote sociologist Martin P. Levine (pg. 3)

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Mar 032013
 

Here’s a blog post on the work of artist Allen Jones, best known in kink circles for his sculptures of women as furniture (aka “forniphilia”), but also a designer of fetish attire.

The sculptures appeared in Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange, and Jones also designed some costumes for the film that weren’t used.

Dec 172012
 

Paul Gormanis’ blog has complete (albeit low-res) scans of a feature from a 1976 Forum (a UK adult magazine) which profiled the proto-kink store SEX founded by punk leaders Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood.

Four women and one man, posing in a row with bare buttocks and

Photo detail (from left): SEX customers Danielle, Alan Jones + Chrissie Hynde; Vivienne Westwood; assistant Jordan.

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Sep 142012
 

Woman in black tight clothing surrounded by leather belts and straps

Vintage Sleaze has a post on Tana Louise, the premier fetish/bondage model before Bettie Page and girlfriend of bondage pioneer Lenny Burtman.

The post ends with stating that the 1940s/1950s porn/fetish/kink world is still largely unexplored:

There are thousands of untold stories from the golden days of sleaze, as this blog proves, and that there have been over 800 posts here already only indicates how many more are to be told.  Yet, from this writer’s perch, Tana Louise is the MAJOR untold story of the 1950s.  A story not even scratched.

Jul 082012
 

Over the course of this research, I’ve looked at BDSM in prose, poetry, painting, dance, illustration, music, fashion, sculpture, film, comics, television, live drama and video games. Is there an art form I have overlooked? Yes, the most ephemeral of arts, that of scent.

The Perfume Shrine talks about the frequent references to scent in the proto-fetishists, like Emile Zola and JK Huysmans, and the first synthesis of the leather scent chemicals.

The leather note, of course, is one such artificial scent, a hybrid of “flower and flesh” created by industry. It is strangely redolent of the human skin which leather approaches, both by its texture and by its proximity to the body of the wearer whose shape it retains…
Can it possibly be a coincidence, then, that leather scents and leather fetishism are strictly contemporary, born in the same decade of the late 19th century?
Check the dates: quinolines, which lend their characteristic smoky-tarry notes to most leather perfumes, were synthesized around 1880. The first recorded Cuir de Russie was composed by Aimé Guerlain in 1875; Eugène Rimmel launched his the following year.

Now, it was precisely in 1876 that French psychiatrist Alfred Binet coined the term “fetishism”; the leather fetish itself is studied in Austrian sexologist Richard von Krafft-Ebing’s Psychopathia Sexualis (1886).

While the fetish is often considered primarily a visual phenomenon, we may be neglecting one of the most powerful and evocative senses, smell.

…Messieurs Guerlain and Rimmel sold their Cuir de Russie. The name may have referred to the Cossacks who rubbed their boots with birch, and certainly bore a virile, military or equestrian connation. But the scents themselves alluded to more private passions.

So we have an engineered scent with associations of virility, the military or the equestrian, which aligns with fetish fashion’s visual gestures towards the soldier and the equestrian.

The blog has more information on the use of leather in scent products, including Orientalized leathers, quirky leathers, butch leather, and more. Just like the material of leather, the scent of leather has changing meaning many times, sometimes worn by men, sometimes by women, and sometimes both. Just like visual fashion, scent fashion is part of the process of how we present ourselves.